If you are catching up on coverage of the 2017 NHL trade deadline as relates to the Carolina Hurricanes, please check out the directory/menu in the middle of the 3 boxes on the left side of the main menu grid. There you will find the collection of articles speculating on the Hurricanes moves and recapping what has already happened.
I am on record as thinking that the most likely scenario is a fairly quiet deadline day that sees Francis trade off 1-2 more of the impending unrestricted free agents to collect a couple more futures and pushes the big decisions for building the 2017-18 opening day roster into summer.
But that is boring and Wednesday is much better suited for speculating and projecting maybes. With that kind of fun in mind here are 10 deals or parts of deals at least roughly within the boundaries of reasonable…
And though thinking about trade options creatively inevitably finds far more misses than hits, when it hits it is absolutely glorious like when I nailed the Bryan Bickell/Teuvo Teravainen deal a week before it happened last summer or way back when I said that the Hurricanes should pounce and sign Alexander Semin to a 1-year deal, was declared an idiot for roughly 15 hours for suggesting it was possible and then being quickly vindicated when it happened the next afternoon.
5 deals I could see happening (past the obvious impending free agent deals)
1) Ryan Murphy plus a draft pick for Anthony Duclair
From the category of ‘It is time to move on’: Duclair is an undersized, offensively gifted 21-year old forward who has shown potential (he had 20 goals and 44 points at the NHL level in 2015-16) but has since stalled in his development and found his way back to the AHL level after a slow start in 2016-17. Ryan Murphy is a 23-year old right shot defenseman who has skating ability that that fits well in today’s NHL but just has not put it together at the NHL level. Given Duclair’s production at the NHL level in 2015-16 and slightly younger age, Francis might need to sweeten the deal, but he has plenty of draft pick resources to do so.
Alternate deal: While Murphy could be kept around for expansion draft purposes (read “Options for Murphy) and traded later (after also maybe boosting his value with even decent play down the stretch), I have to think that Francis strongly considers any kind of reasonable ‘change of scenery’ deal that sees Murphy return a similarly gifted but sputtering forward prospect.
2) Lee Stempniak for a package greater than a second round pick (either a first, conditional second or a second plus more)
From the category of ‘cashing in on high prices’: Some might be puzzled to see Lee Stempniak on a trade deadline list. I included Stempniak as a wild card in part 1 of my trade deadline series that mostly detailed the obvious trade chips – the impending free agents. He is signed for the 2017-18 season for a reasonable $2.5 million salary to boot, so he is not the normal rental type of trade that is most common this time of year. So while Stempniak is a low probability trade chip,
I think 2 things make it at least possible. First is that the market rate for rentals this year seems exceedingly high. Martin Hanzal (is he really that much better than Stempniak?) netted a first and a second round pick plus. I figure the market value for Stempniak as a more straightforward rental in the current market would be a second round pick. If someone is willing to pay more than that, does Ron Francis at least consider it? There is some maneuvering to do to get there, but theoretically Francis could collect a small fortune in futures and then spend the same $2.5 million (or less futures via trade) to replace Stempniak this summer.
The second thing is that Stempniak has not really clicked on the Canes roster. He has not had a bad season by any means, but his modest low 40s scoring pace is not anything that screams ‘irreplaceable.’
If Francis can get a package greater than a single second round pick, I think he at least considers collecting now and taking his chances on replacing Stempniak later.
Alternate deal: The alternate for Stempniak if no one is willing to overpay is simply to keep him. As noted above, he is signed through 2017-18 for a reasonable salary, and the Hurricanes are shot at forward anyway.
3) A package of higher-end futures for Alex Galchenyuk
From the category of ‘making a statement for 2017-18’: I am on record (repeatedly) as saying that at some point the Hurricanes need to add a catalyst/difference-maker offensively at forward. After my 3-day rant in early January, most probably figured this would take a decidedly Colorado Avalanche turn. But I actually think a more complicated deal but also one more up Francis’ ally would see a domino effect whereby Montreal wins the Duchene sweepstakes and as part of it finally gets off the ‘keep him vs. trade him’ fence for Alex Galchenyuk.
The salary cap math could be challenging, but it is possible that Montreal adds Duchene, sends salary the other way in the deal to make it work and then holds off at least until summer to make a call on Galchenyuk. But my scenario sees the chain reaction playing out more rapidly. In such a scenario where Montreal either had to (salary cap) or just wanted to move on now, the only thing they would be able to take back would be futures (presumably to help replenish what they give up to get Duchene).
Alternate deal: See below.
4) If not Alex Galchenyuk then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for mostly futures
From the category of ‘making a statement for 2017-18’: If not Galchenyuk, then how about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins under a similar scenario. Edmonton is not salary cap-constrained like Montreal for the 2016-17 season. But they do have salary cap challenges coming soon when Leon Drasaitl and Connor McDavid come off their entry-level contracts and command huge raises. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is basically an third line center in Edmonton but at a $6 million salary. If Edmonton does a big deal to add another expensive player or 2 just maybe they decide to start working on the future salary cap challenges early in which case Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the obvious candidates to be traded.
Alternate deal: See above.
5) Virtually nothing for Jason Garrison
From the category of ‘Whhhaattttt?: Of all of the trade deadline articles, discussions, social media comments and whatever else, I do not think I have seen a single mention of the Hurricanes adding a defenseman. So here I come out of left field. With Hainsey’s departure and no one proving ready to step into his place yet, I think it is possible that Francis adds a bridge of sorts to try to solidify the top 4 and make it possible for the Hurricanes young defensemen to move up when ready not out of necessity.
As I wrote in more detail in part 2 of my trade deadline series on defensemen, I think Jason Garrison from Tampa Bay could be a unique opportunity across a number of dimensions. First, Tampa Bay is staring at significant salary cap challenges for 2017-18 and needs to cut salary. Garrison’s $4.6 million salary cap hit would obviously help. But perfect for the Hurricanes is that his actual salary for 2017-18 is a much more reasonable $2.5 million (basically what Hainsey was making this season). This deal has an element of the Bickell/Teravainen variety that sees Francis capitalizing on the salary cap. Garrison is a veteran, mobile left shot who could potentially complement Faulk or otherwise provide a veteran to help mentor a young defenseman in the bottom pairing. The key is that Yzerman needs to be ready to move aggressively on his salary cap challenge such that his primary return in this deal is the salary cap relief. This is another deal that maybe pushes to summer, but the advantage of doing it sooner would be to give Garrison significant run time in 2016-17 to get up to speed with more than a compressed training camp to do so.
Alternate deal: In browsing options, I do not see much else where the trade cost and salary (actual $ not cap) costs are both low, but the player is top 4-capable.
3 deals I don’t see happening
6) A trade for Marc-Andre Fleury, Jaroslav Halak or any other goalie
I wrote this up in more detail in part 4 of my trade deadline series which posted late last night. The short version is that I think that the combination of a high number of free agents combined with the expansion draft will put a record number of viable goalies on the market and make that a better time to explore upgrade options if Lack does not impress down the stretch.
7) Justin Faulk being traded
While I do not think this is impossible, I continue to think it is unlikely. I wrote in detail about the Faulk for Nugent-Hopkins rumor earlier this week and also about the Faulk for Duchene chatter before that. We have clearly reached the point where ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ could apply to Justin Faulk if a deal does fall out of the sky on Tuesday. But I am still betting against it.
8) A deal for Matt Duchene
It breaks my heart to say it, but I would be surprised to see the Hurricanes win a bidding war for Matt Duchene on Tuesday. He is worth more for teams that are trying to win a Stanley Cup in 2017 and could use him going forward. If he is not dealt at the trade deadline and instead his name comes up again in June, I start to like the Hurricanes chances more knowing that a bunch of the competition passed at the trade deadline.
With that, I probably just set it up for Ron Francis to trade Justin Faulk for Matt Duchene and follow up by making a big goalie trade. 🙂
Not counting the normal rental deals, what trades could you see happening today for the Carolina Hurricanes?