This afternoon, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the re-signing of Brendan Woods, Keegan Lowe, Brody Sutter and Dennis Robertson.
Then shortly thereafter, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the re-signing of Ryan Murphy.
It was as if Ron Francis was just like the rest of us and scrambling to finish up a couple projects before heading off to the beach for the week.
Today’s work puts the Hurricanes at 48 players out of a maximum 50 under contract and also at an estimated 44 players to fill NHL and AHL rosters. (If they do not make the NHL team, Nicolas Roy, Julien Gauthier and Jake Bean would be required to return to juniors if he does not make the NHL team, and Aleksi Saarela might return to Finland if he does not make the NHL roster.)
So that begs the question: Is Ron Francis done for the summer?
I think the short answer is that he could be. He has what projects to be a full NHL roster and some depth below it with NHL experience currently slotted for Charlotte. He has a few young players who could push their way up into the mix. He is above the salary cap minimum. Though Ron Francis will explore additional moves over the course of the summer, especially the opportunistic kind that sees teams desperate to make salary cap math work, I think he is also content to enter the season with what he has.
What kind of deal might he consider doing?
Young (that is an important first word) help at forward
I think he would consider doing a deal that boosts the 2016-17 roster, but only if the cost is very modest and/or the player added fits the general game plan of getting younger and better at the same time. The Teuvo Teravainen/Bryan Bickell deal is a good example of that. Francis gave up a second and a third round draft pick and in a roundabout way cash (because he knew he was overpaying Bickell to also get Teravainen). For the type of player that Francis would target to become available would require an NHL GM to instantly become both crazy and stupid, but then it has been a good summer for that, so who knows.
Probability=15%; Names=Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Duchene, Alex Killorn or another Lightning forward.
An upgrade at goalie
I think Francis would be willing to do the right deal to upgrade Eddie Lack’s goalie slot, but I think the possibility of it happening are a long shot. There are actually 2 decent options who are likely available. Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury both represent expensive contracts on teams with cap issues (not so much this season but looking forward) that have young goalies who are expected to supplant them anyway. Both also have the potential to be lost for nothing next summer, Bishop as an unrestricted free agent and Fleury as an expansion draft selection. But despite the probable availability, I will be surprised to see Francis pull off a surprise trade in this direction. Either player would require an increase in budget with their nearly $6 million salaries, and either would probably require a decent bid in terms of trade assets. Then there is the issue of packaging Lack in the deal (Canes are not paying 3 goalies) and also inking a new contract with Bishop which might not line up with the expected/hoped for Nedeljkovic schedule.
Probability=5%; Names=Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury.
The addition of a veteran depth defenseman
Signing Murphy for 2 years to at least be a potential ‘expansion draft shield’ suggests that Francis is probably also finished adding defensemen. I like the idea of adding 1 more veteran defenseman on the cheap to hopefully be the #7 (pushing Tennyson who is on a 2-way contract down to Charlotte), but I think Francis disagrees and wants to go with all of the youth. If he did want another veteran depth defenseman in the mix, easiest would just have been to keep James Wisniewski.
Probability=<5%; Names=Kyle Quincey, Matthew Carle, Dennis Seidenberg.
A free agent forward on the cheap
I think Francis intended for Lee Stempniak to be his last addition at forward, but with the team shallower at that position in terms of young help, is there a price at which a decent depth forward with decent scoring ability just becomes to hard to ignore. Jiri Hudler put up 76 points (yes 76 points!) only 2 years ago before a less productive 2015-16 campaign. Also 2 years ago, Radim Vrbata put up 63 points. Signing either of them and expecting those totals would be foolish but if their prices fall to the low $1 million range, might Francis reach back into his wallet to add more quality scoring depth?
Probability=10%; Names: Jiri Hudler, Radim Vrbata, Kris Versteeg.
I think the odds are greatest that Francis is finished unless he walks into a deal he just cannot refused because 1 of the crazy GMs is suddenly willing to part with a good forward for less than market value or possibly if a free agent who might be second line-capable is suddenly available on a 1-year deal for a fourth line price.
Probability that Francis is finished for the summer=60%.
What say you Canes fans? Is Ron Francis finished for the summer? Should he be? What is the probability that he pull off another savvy deal late in the summer like the Versteeg/Nordstrom deal last September?