Nearing the midway point of the 2019-20 season, the trade market that has been pretty quiet so far should start seeing some business. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe starts to look at the possibility of the Hurricanes adding help from outside the organization by assessing the current situation.
In a good place – no urgency
An important starting point for considering the trade market for the Hurricanes is recognizing that there is no desperation or even urgency to do anything. Tuesday’s win pushed the Hurricanes to 19-11-1 and up above Pittsburgh into fourth place in the Metropolitan Division which is good for the first wild card slot. The margin for error is fairly small, but the Hurricanes are in a good place right now. In addition, the current three-game winning streak has the Hurricanes rising not falling right now. As such, there is no reason the Hurricanes need to do anything. Riding the current roster deeper into the season is a viable option and not one that necessarily discounts the team’s chances to return to the playoffs.
Limited cap room – potentially only one bullet available
With the Hurricanes up against the salary cap this season, the team does not have a ton of room to add players if there is not a corresponding decrease in salary. As such, the team might only have one bullet to add a single player and still stay cap compliant. As such, one school of thought would be to keep that one bullet available in case injuries create a bigger need later.
The Justin Williams situation
The other thing still looming is the potential return of Justin Williams. As noted above, cap space is limited, so adding another player from outside the organization could eliminate the potential for a Justin Williams return. So if the team is still holding a place for a possible Williams’ return, that could preclude a trade.
Right now, I think adding a more offense-leaning center is the move with the greatest potential to take the team up a notch. Best bet is that Erik Haula will be limited for the remainder of the 2019-20. As such, the Hurricanes are minus a center and arguably light offensively at the position. Higher-end centers are nearly impossible to come by, but could the Canes find a middle-tier center capable of centering a scoring line? Alternatively, I think the Hurricanes could benefit from having one more power forward type of wing. In some ways, I think the Hurricanes and the forecheck miss what Micheal Ferland brought to the lineup. Could the Hurricanes benefit from adding a middle-tier power forward to the mix?
As note above, making a deal work for 2019-20 could be challenging with the Hurricanes right up against the salary cap. But interestingly, I think the Hurricanes could easily fit a contract for 2020-21. The Hurricanes recoup nearly $7 million in salary cap just from Patrick Marleau’s contract and the small retained portion of Justin Faulk’s contract. And for 2020-21, the team does not have any re-signings that figure to escalate dramatically. As such, the Hurricanes could have a decent amount of budget for 2020-21. But past 2020-21, the team would want to be careful adding salary that decreases flexibility heading into the summer when Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton need new contracts that could require significant raises (especially in the case of Svechnikov). So for the right player, the Hurricanes could take on two years of contract but ideally not three.
My two cents
Part two to follow in the next few days will look in more detail about needs and possible options or at least types of players. Assuming there is not a schedule and a budget in place for Justin Williams, I do think it makes sense for Don Waddell to explore options to add one more forward. The tricky part is figuring out what the Hurricanes would give up to clear cap space.
What say you Canes fans?
1) With the team in playoff position and playing fairly well, would you even consider adding a player from outside the organization? Or would you be fully in the mode of riding the current roster right now?
2) If you were to consider a trade or addition from outside, what skill set/position would you be targeting?
3) What are the odds that Justin Williams becomes an addition at some point?