The two biggest names on the trade market come off the board
On Saturday it was announced that the Columbus Blue Jackets had traded disgruntled young star Pierre-Luc Dubois (and a draft pick) to the Winnipeg Jets for similarly disgruntled young star Patrik Laine (and Jack Roslovic).
On Friday, I wrote an article stating that Dubois was worth pursuing because of his potential to add a high-end second center who was only 22 years old, but I also acknowledged that he was more likely to be swapped to a team who could offer a comparable high-end player in return (instead of a decent package that Canes could put together). That is pretty much what happened on Saturday likely without the Hurricanes every really being in the mix.
During the course of the off-season, the Hurricanes were also linked to Patrik Laine in the rumor mill. While acknowledging his high ceiling as an elite scorer, I was never a fan of adding Laine because his game is a bit one-dimensional and because of the salary cap issues with needing to re-sign him next summer. I wrote about Laine HERE.
At least for now, that takes at least the publicly available high-end players off the market.
There were also rumblings during the off-season that the Hurricanes could be in the market for a goalie upgrade.
Do the Hurricanes still need to add one or two higher-end players to take a next step?
For me, that raises the question — Do the Hurricanes still need a higher-end player or two to take a next step up from being a playoff regular to truly being an elite team with better than the ‘every playoff team gets a dice roll’ chance of winning the Stanley Cup?
I am torn on that question.
I rode the fence a bit on the goalie situation saying that I did think the Hurricanes should at least consider adding a goalie with a higher ceiling, but at the same time I said that an upgrade was not a necessity.
I liked Dubois but not Laine.
I wrote articles from a couple different angles stating that having a second scoring line emerge around Vincent Trocheck or someone else centering the second line could be the single most important thing for improving in 2020-21.
I do strongly believe that the team needs to improve in terms of having a second scoring line to back up Aho’s. But the trickier part is whether that requires help from outside or whether enough gains can be made internally.
Can Vincent Trocheck produce at a level somewhere between his 75-point peak and the 50-point pace he posted in 2019-20, and is that enough?
Could Martin Necas be part of the answer either supporting Trocheck as a finishing wing or even moving back to the center position like Aho did after gaining a bit more experience?
Or do the Canes really just need to opportunistically find a deal to add one more difference-maker via trade?
Where do I land?
I do think the Hurricanes need probably two more higher-end scorers to take a next step. The NHL’s top teams tend to be two lines deep in terms of scoring, so it can be hard to compete with them in the playoffs, especially on the road, without being able to match them. But I do not necessarily think that such help must come from outside the organization. If Martin Necas continues to grow and finds chemistry with Trocheck, that could instandly be 2/3 of that needed second scoring line. Especially if Brind’Amour separates Svechnikov from Aho’s line like he has mostly done so far, that could make the Hurricanes two lines deep offensively maybe even without it being clear which is the first line.
So based on the fact that Necas is really only in his second NHL season at the young age of 22 and that Trocheck had sort of a shot and odd set of auditions in 2019-20 with the COVID-19 effects, I would be fine with giving the duo some time to see one or both of them is the answer. But at the point where that does not look promising after a longer look, I would become a bit more interested in trying to do a deal to add one more high-end player.
I think people can overestimate how long a window is certain to be open for a rising young team like the Hurricanes. The challenges of re-signing good young players makes it difficult to keep a good team intact. And statistics seem to show that players’ primes are younger than some think anyway.
So when I net it out, I lean toward having a bit of patience to see what the team has in Martin Necas and Vincent Trocheck. If that does not look to be a path to a higher-end second scoring line, I would more aggressively be a bidder the next time a high-end forward becomes available.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Knowing that young, top line type players like Dubois and Laine do not hit the trade market often, do you think the Hurricanes should have more aggressively pursued one or both of them?
2) Do you think the Hurricanes still need to add a higher-end player or two from outside to take another step forward into the top echelon of the NHL?