Technically, I think I am supposed to wait until US Thanksgiving to look to the GM to make moves, but with the Canes coming off a tough week, I will jump in a bit early.
Right now, the Canes are struggling along at 6-9-2. At the midway point of a home-heavy November, the Canes have stumbled along with a 1-3-2 record and are limping into the GM checkpoint.
If I was Ron Francis, I would do a couple things:
1) Make some kind of statement that when we are failing, we will at least try to be better. It says something to the fan base.
I think most of us get that we are in a bit of a rebuilding mode, but I also am not a fan of completely chucking entire seasons November every year. Do I think Ron Francis should go leverage the future by making a bunch of band-aid/lottery ticket trades that give up futures for potential short-term fixes? No. But I do think Ron Francis needs to make a statement or 2 that says he is not okay with the current situation either.
Easiest would be to call up 1-2 players from Charlotte to shake things up a little bit without spending futures. I voted for that earlier this week already in this post.
2) Use November phone calls to start shopping for an expedited path to better/deeper forward lines.
My math from after Thursday’s loss in this post said the Canes had only 5 top 9 forwards. If Elias Lindholm rebounds following his goal tonight that would make 6 which is still 3 short of a good NHL team. And though there are a couple possibilities, I would not count on Charlotte to provide a bunch of help short-term. The prospect pool at forward is pretty thin right now and light on high-end players. I am not a fan of trading futures to band aid this with the variety of older, expensive, underperforming players that are always available. But if I could add a longer-term addition in the form of a young, proven top 6 type player who is under contract for 3-4 years, I would consider doing so. It improves the lineup right, expedites the rebuilding process and does so in a long-term way. With the Flyers in town, the name I have been bandying around as an example is Wayne Simmonds. The Canes helped the Flyers management take 1 step away from irrational bad trade range, and it is doubtful he will become available, but he is a good example. He is only 27. He is a proven top 6 NHL forward. He brings a skill set that the Canes need as a power forward who scores around the net. And importantly, he is under contract for 3 years after this 1 at a reasonable $4.7M/year. That makes him an addition for now AND for the future, not just a short-term fix.
The other angle is to trade similar near-NHL ready prospects on defense for similar at forward. The thinking is threefold. First, the Canes are deep in terms of defense prospects, so they can maybe spare 1-2. Second, defensemen take longer to mature, so most are farther away. Third, a near NHL-ready forward might be able to slot into the Canes lineup and learn on the job while improving the team. A name that has been bandied about this season is Kerby Rychel who is a 21-year old (2013 draftee) power forward in Columbus’ system. He has yet to crack the Columbus roster and is sitting behind a pretty deep and strong set of forwards in Columbus. Meanwhile, Columbus needs help on defense both now and in the future. As just one example, might Rychel be available for a package that includes a similar age/quality defense prospect? And if so, might Rychel be able to slot into the Canes forward-light lineup right now and also add a bit more size? Rychel is just 1 example of probably a few situations with teams that might be strong at forward and willing to make a sideways trade for a defense prospect.
Again, I am not a fan of short-term band aids, and I am not a fan of jeopardizing the future to appease a restless fan base, but if you can make a trade that works in the direction of building for the future, suggests that the future can be sooner rather than later and offers hope for the fan base, that is a win on all accounts in my book.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Ron Francis does from mid-November to the end of December.