Late Wednesday night, it was announced that the Carolina Hurricanes had acquired forward Erik Haula in return for prospect Nicolas Roy and a conditional 2021 fifth round draft pick.


A positive addition

As noted above, I like the move in general. Erik Haula is an upgrade for the middle part of the lineup and has the speed to be a good fit for Brind’Amour’s system. He is a versatile player who can play left wing or center. He is also another capable penalty killer with the type of speed that can lead to shorthanded breakaway chances. Haula also brings a decent balance of two-way play but with offensive ability. All in all, he at a minimum should be an upgrade to the bottom half of the lineup. In some ways, I see him as being a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-lite in terms of versatility being able to play two positions and also reasonably well on different types of lines.


Upside versus downside production-wise

The big question for me with regard to what Haula brings has to do with his scoring ability. He had a breakout season during Vegas’ stellar inaugural season. His 29 goals and 55 points in 75 games in 2017-18 are reasonable production for a second line center (or wing).  But his scoring pace otherwise has been below 40 points per 82 games in his other five seasons in the NHL. So the high end qualifies as a decent second line scorer. The low end looks more like another good depth forward who production-wise slots on a third line.


…But regardless a net positive

Not to be lost in trying to fill gaps higher in the lineup is the fact that Haula is a good middle of the lineup player who should make the team deeper and better regardless of where he slots.


On Nicolas Roy

Nicolas Roy has made positive step-wise progress since being drafted and does project to be an NHL player. With Vegas needing inexpensive depth players to make the salary cap math work and with a decent amount of offensive fire power at the top of the lineup, Roy might find his way into a sizable NHL audition in training camp. But though I do see Roy as having the potential to hold down an NHL spot in the future, I think his ceiling is fairly low. Most likely, he fits as a defensively capable fourth-liner who can take defensive zone draws and chip in some offense. In short, I think Roy is the type of player who is replaceable both in the lineup and within the Hurricanes’ depth chart.


My one reservation

My one reservation has less to do with Haula and more to do with how the team might envision him fitting into the lineup. I sketched out how I saw the Hurricanes forward lines in yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe. I see Haula as ideally being a complementary left wing on either a scoring line or Staal’s match up line, but I wonder if the team instead has him projected to be one of the top three centers. I continue to think that the one big add needed is a catalyst/playmaking second line forward, ideally a center. While I do think there is a chance that the 2017-18, 59-point version of Haula is that, I would have preferred that the Hurricanes add something higher end for that slot. With Haula’s modest $2.75 million salary cap hit and the de Haan trade yesterday, the potential is still there to make another addition depending on what the team’s goals and budget are.


Injury risk

Another wild card in the situation is the fact that Haula missed the majority of the 2018-19 season with a severe knee injury sustained in early November. He is expected to be ready for training camp, but the injury was of the variety for which the potential is there for lingering effects.


In general, I like the move but hope it is just one of two upgrading the Canes forward ranks.



What say you Canes fans?


1) What are your general thoughts on the trade for Erik Haula?


2) Where do you envision Haula slotting into the Hurricanes lineup?


3) What, if anything, is next?


Go Canes!

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