Thursday was a huge news day from a Carolina Hurricanes perspective.
Just before the first of two practices kicked off at 2:45pm, the team announced that it had named Justin Williams its captain. I offered my initial thoughts on that announcement HERE.
Shortly before that the team announced that Victor Rask had undergone surgery on his fourth and fifth fingers from an injury sustained in a kitchen accident earlier in the summer and would be out indefinitely.
And somewhere amidst that fray, news broke that the Ottawa Senators had traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks for what could best be termed a sizable collection of random pieces.
Though not directly related to the Carolina Hurricanes, this last announcement is the topic of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.
How the Erik Karlsson deal could impact the Hurricanes
Erik Karlsson was by far and away the best player left who seemingly had to be moved, and he would have stood atop the list of available defensemen even before the list had been mostly cleared. In terms of basic skill set, Karlsson is an offensively gifted right shot defenseman who brings a ton in terms of generating offense and scoring. He is adequate or maybe better but not elite defensively to top 4-capable and well worth it given the offense he brings.
To be clear, Justin Faulk is not the same caliber of player as Erik Karlsson, but for a team looking for a right shot, experienced top 4 defenseman who can play on a first power play unit and contribute offensively Faulk checks all the same boxes even if in the form a somewhat lower caliber player.
As such, could at least a couple of the teams in hot pursuit of Karlsson turn their attention to Faulk as the next best option for that general skill set? At a bare minimum, I think there is now a set of exploratory phone calls for Don Waddell to make and a good chance that at least a couple teams are willing to consider Faulk at some price.
But the team says Justin Faulk is staying…
Don Waddell said recently that the team expected to enter training camp (done) and the regular season with Justin Faulk in tow. There were some comments about the goodness of defensive depth. Those who report or take management’s comments at face value seem to think Faulk is suddenly part of the longer-term plan again.
Though the team might be willing to ride into the 2018-19 season with Faulk still onboard because trade value was not or is not what they want, make no mistake that trading Faulk is likely a priority right now for a couple reasons
Sticking to the original plan
Shortly after Dougie Hamilton was acquired and before Calvin de Haan was signed, I wrote an article on July 3 entitled, “Is the other shoe about to drop? If so, what does that entail?” One of two domino of deals scenarios detailed suggested three moves. Justin Faulk would be traded for a forward to replace Jeff Skinner. Calvin de Haan would be added via free agency to fill out the top 4 on defense and balance the left and right shots. And Jeff Skinner would be traded for futures. The order has been been different, but the de Haan and Skinner moves happened obviously leaving only the Faulk deal to close out the interrelated set of transactions that I predicted.
Justin Faulk’s name was first in line when the rumor mill kicked off prior to the 2018 NHL Draft weekend. His name as bandied about in all directions. The team did nothing to step in the way of those rumors early on. Then the team basically added another top 4 pairing when Dougie Hamilton was acquired via trade and Calvin de Haan as a free agent. By my estimation and I think the team’s too, the move pushed Faulk down to the third defense pairing. As much as it would be nice to have such depth on the blue line, I do not think that makes any sense for longer than necessary for a couple significant reasons.
1) Faulk is redundant in a right shot third pairing role. Trevor van Riemsdyk filled this role well in 2017-18 and returns. Sure, having extra players is a nice luxury to have, but the team does not really need two right shot third pairing defensemen.
2) Faulk is too pricey for that slot. The luxury of having an extra veteran defenseman around might be okay if Faulk’s salary was less, but at a cap hit of $4.8 million and an actual salary of $6 million each of the next two years, that is a pricey luxury that makes little sense.
3) Faulk is not likely part of the long-term plan, so the time to collect value is now. By my estimation, I do not think Faulk is part of the long-term plan. If I am correct, he will be gone after the 2019-20 season regardless. Rather than losing him for nothing, the team should do what it an to parlay Faulk into a return of some kind.
4) Faulk’s departure is part of the intended and necessary roster and leadership shake up. The team will never say it directly (though actually they mostly did after Skinner’s departure, so maybe they will do it again), but I think Faulk was likely on a short list of players who management deemed as necessary parts of resetting and starting anew with a new attitude, culture, mentality, leadership, etc.
5) Faulk is likely getting in the way of the longer-term plan for team leadership. In my article on Justin Williams being named captain, I positioned him as being a ‘bridge’ to the next long-term captain in writing:
You heard it hear first…
1) Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin will share an ‘A’ as soon as Justin Faulk is traded.
2) One of them will the team’s next captain for the 2020-21 season, and that could see but does not require Justin Williams to retire. The team will not say it publicly, but between Rod Brind’Amour, Justin Williams and a few others in the inner circle, part of the assignment that Williams knowingly took today was to groom the next leader for the team.
If that assertion is correct, Justin Faulk is currently sitting in a leadership spot that needs to be used to start one or both of Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho on the path to becoming the team’s next long-term captain after Justin Williams builds the bridge for him.
So while I fully acknowledge that Faulk’s departure could be held up waiting for a reasonable return, I still think his departure is still a priority and is ultimately inevitable be it in the few weeks leading up to the season or possibly later.
So why now and who are the possible suitors?
One might figure that if there was not a reasonable deal to be had for Faulk that one would not emerge until into the season when injuries and underperformance create new needs for teams. But in fact that need might just have been created when multiple teams in the bidding whiffed on winning the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes. All it takes is two or three of those teams to deem Faulk the next best option and good enough to fulfill the need. If that happens, there could suddenly be a better market Faulk.
Teams linked to Erik Karlsson at one point or another over the summer include Tampa Bay, Dallas, Las Vegas and Colorado. Toronto and Edmontn have also been said to be seeking blue line help. If Canes general manager Don Waddell could stir up a little bit of interest and a little bit of noise, those things have the potential to spin up enough of a bidding war to get something close to a fair return for Faulk.
I will skip specific trade proposals for Faulk for right now and maybe revisit soon if Faulk is not moved quickly, but more generally the Karlsson trade could spur the market for the next best option in Faulk.
What say you Canes fans?
1) How much, if at all, do you the Karlsson trade increases the probability that a Faulk deal happens next?
2) What is the probability now that Faulk starts the 2018-19 season still playing for the Hurricanes?
3) Who has specific trade proposals that could be reasonable?
Stay safe with Florence visiting today!