Before Saturday’s game, it was announced that the Hurricanes had acquired Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Ryan Dzingel.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at the trade in a bit more detail than my initial comments on Twitter.
Exiting Ryan Dzingel
Before the 2019-20 season the Carolina Hurricanes signed Ryan Dzingel as a free agent with the aim of adding another finisher on the wing. Before arriving, he had scored 26 and 23 goals in the two prior seasons. But he never seemed to find his groove with the Hurricanes and mostly bounced around the lineup trying to find a higher gear. In 75 games with the Hurricanes, he had scored only 10 goals and collected only 33 points. For a player whose strength and expected contribution was scoring, that just not enough. And as a player who is not as strong in other facets of the game, he was not an ideal fit for a depth role nor is he priced right for that role at $3.375 million salary cap hit.
Maybe as much as anything, this trade was about moving on from a player who just did not work out as hoped.
But in addition to moving on, the Hurricanes also netted a good return in terms of adding quality to the bottom half of the roster.
The primary return was center Cedric Paquette. Paquette is a bit of an old school fourth-liner who plays with a physical edge and even a bit of throwback nastiness. The telltale sign that Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour is not particularly happy with the fourth line is when he intermittently moves Jordan Martinook back to the center position which he has done again recently. After bursting onto the NHL scene with a two-game scoring barrage, Morgan Geekie came back to Earth a bit. The upside of him in the fourth line center slot is if the team can get above average depth scoring from the line. In nine games to start the 2020-21 season, Geekie has yet to crack the score sheet. I think has Brind’Amour leaning toward building more of a traditional fourth line that is physical, difficult to play against and also filled by a player or two who kill penalties. Paquette is a perfect fit for that role and priced right at $1.65 million against the salary cap.
Seemingly an afterthought in discussion of the trade is Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk was fairly recently a rising young player. Galchenyuk was selected third overall in the 2012 NHL draft and netted 30 goals and 56 points as a 21-year old with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16. But his trajectory has been downward since then. The Hurricanes will be his fifth team since his departure from the Montreal Canadiens after the 2017-18 season. In eight games with the Senators in 2020-21, Galchenyuk had netted only a single goal and had zero assists. I think at this point, I think it would be fair to call him a bit of a reclamation project potentially with upside.
Upon obtaining him, the Hurricanes immediately placed him on waivers which some are interpreting as the Hurricanes wishing to part ways with Galchenyuk. I think more likely is that the Hurricanes actually want to keep him but only as a #13 forward who slots onto the taxi list and does not count against the salary cap. With no guarantees based on his recent trajectory, he could slot into the lineup as a hopeful scoring wing in the event that injuries create a need there. I view this a bit like when Nedeljkovic hit waivers. It is not so much that the Hurricanes want to get rid of the player. Rather, it is that they are willing to take the risk that the player gets claimed with the benefit if the Canes are right that he will not be claimed.
Salary cap savings
Not to be missed in the deal is the salary cap savings. Swapping in Paquette and his $1.65 million salary in for Dzingel cuts about $1.7 million against the salary cap. This savings could be used at the trade deadline or could just be banked to help assure that the Hurricanes do not have to roll any entry-level contract bonuses into the 2021-22 season when things get tight trying to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov and possibly Dougie Hamilton while still staying under the salary cap. If Galchenyuk pushing up into the NHL lineup, his $1.05 million salary would still only be a few $100,000 more than entry-level contract players, and at the AHL level or on the taxi squad, the Hurricanes can bury his full contract at least in terms of salary cap hit.
Where they slot
As noted above, Cedric Paquette should slot right into the fourth line center slot and likely be paired with Jordan Martinook making for two-thirds of a physical forechecking fourth line. And if he clears waivers which should be reasonably probable, I think Galchenyuk is intended to be a #13 or #14 forward for the taxi squad with the potential to provide scoring depth if needed.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the trade in general and the newest Canes Cedric Paquette and potentially Alex Galchenyuk?
2) How do you feel about possibly abandoning the potential (even if yet unrealized in 2020-21) for a more offensive fourth line in factor of building a bit more of a rugged, physical scoring-light old school fourth line?