Since the beginning of February I have sporadically written a few articles about the upcoming 2019 NHL trade deadline.
I stand by what I have written so far. I do not see the Hurricanes entering and winning high-end bidding wars for pricey rentals. But if they are actually available, I do think there are a couple higher-end players who could be longer-term additions. Finally, I continue to think that timing could be right to sell high on Justin Faulk.
When you net it out, the Hurricanes figure to explore possibilities for add a top 6 forward with term on his contract, but given that those deals an be difficult to pull off, I think the most likely scenario has a quiet trade deadline for the Hurricanes.
But with the Hurricanes continuing to move up and now very clearly in the playoff hunt, could the team actually become buyers?
Though the odds are against it, today’s Daily Cup of Joe at least considers the possibility
The starting point is identifying needs. As the roster currently stands, the team is pretty set on the blue line. With five top 4 -capable defenseman, a solid third pairing defenseman in Trevor van Riemsdyk also in tow, the Hurricanes are deep on defense. If and only if the team deals a top 4 defenseman for a forward, it might consider adding a veteran depth defenseman. In goal, the Hurricanes could maybe upgrade, but that would mean upsetting the apple cart in terms of having to unload a goalie too. Though there are a few enticing names potentially available, I would be surprised to see the Hurricanes play in this market. Finally, there is the forward position. With a number of AHL call ups proving to be at least serviceable at the NHL level, the Hurricanes are in reasonable shape in terms of having bottom half of the roster depth. But I think the glaring weakness continues to be the lack of a catalyst/driver type center to lead a second scoring line or possibly a top 6 scoring wing just to add more offensive fire power.
So if I was general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, I would be looking to boost the offense ideally with a center but possibly with a wing.
Two internal additions
Before even looking outside the organization, the Hurricanes could make two different types of additions internally. First, Jordan Staal is now practicing in a regular jersey and figures to return as early as Tuesday but if not that likely within the next few games. Because he is imperfect as an scoring-lite top 6 center, I think many people underestimate how much Staal could help down the stretch. Even while leaving you wanting more offensively, Staal is very good at what he does as a shutdown line center. And given that whoever he replaces will also be scoring-lite, Staal should be a nice upgrade within a game of two of the trade deadline.
Micheal Ferland is another sort of addition if the team foregoes trading him for a small pile of futures. The team itself has used the term ‘self rental’ which means that the Canes could actually keep Ferland to help the current season even with the risk of losing him for nothing next summer.
Though not sexy or headline-worthy, those two additions wold be significant.
Considering options for a center
I really think the target is adding a scoring-centric second line center to serve as a catalyst for a scoring line.
Additions with term
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins: He is maybe not as high end offensively, but he is a good, proven hockey player. Best bet is that Edmonton waits until summer to resort things out, but if Nugent-Hopkins becomes available, I would calling about him.
Jonathan Huberdeau: Is he available? If so, is he only available for anything other than the proposed blockbuster with Columbus? Because of his age, term on his contract and his skill set, this is one bidding war that I would try to win if it happens.
William Nylander: The ideal time to add Nylander is after Toronto pays his huge 2019-20 bonus on July 1. And I would not be coaxed into including Pesce or Hamilton in this deal. But with the aim of rebalancing the team, I would consider a deal with Faulk and Nylander as the foundation of a bigger trade.
The rental market for this year’s trade deadline is a very good one with a number of first line type players. The question is whether the Hurricanes would consider spending futures for short-term help. At a basic level, I think the answer is likely no. But for the right player and if the price decreases, might the Hurricanes surprise? There is at least a chance.
Matt Duchene: I really think Duchene is a near perfect fit for the Hurricanes need for another scoring catalyst at the center position. He is not just a complementary player but rather the catalyst that the Hurricanes need. He is a center. And he can also help the power play. If Duchene were added, the Hurricanes go from Aho, Staal, Wallmark and McKegg down the middle to Aho, Duchene, Staal and Wallmark. The move that bumps everyone down a notch makes a massive difference in terms of slotting players appropriately. So what would it take for it to happen? Basically, to get Duchene would require a bidding war not to materialize such that the Senators just have to unload him for whatever they can get late on deadline day. In such a scenario, could the extra second round pick obtained in the Skinner trade plus modest other futures be enough? It seems unlikely, but who knows.
The market has a number of other high-end rentals who could be available, but I do not see the Hurricanes spending the future for rentals. As such, maybe the Hurricanes dangle a mid-round pick to add scoring depth, but I think that would be about it.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are the odds that a hockey trade is completed that trades a top 4 defenseman for a top 6 forward? If such a trade does happen, what would the trade be?
2) Do you see any chance that the Hurricanes go unconventional and actually spend for a higher-end rental who could be a key difference-maker?
3) It is time to register your predictions. Take a shot at predicting at least one Hurricanes trade.