During draft weekend, there was plenty of rumors and rumblings about Carolina Hurricanes players who were allegedly on the trading block. Ironically, the two players most regularly mentioned, Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, were not involved when the team made a blockbuster trading Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and defense prospect Adam Fox.
In just over a week since the 2018 NHL Draft weekend, Skinner and Faulk’s names have continued to make the rounds in trade circles. But the big news this weekend was the start of free agency, the John Tavares sweepstakes and teams also chasing a few other higher-end players available. But as of Monday, John Tavares has landed and the free agent pool is largely depleted. Could it be time for teams who still need help to reengage on the possibility of adding Skinner for scoring or Faulk to fill out a top 4 on defense?
The team has been doing some posturing suggesting that it would be happy to enter the 2018-19 season with both players still on the roster. While that is by no means impossible, I will be surprised if neither of Faulk or Skinner is dealt before training camp. Despite shipping out a large volume of depth players, thus far the team has cut exactly no one from its official leadership team nor has it really parted ways with a true top half of the roster player (only Lindholm is debatable). As such, I think the team has at least one more big deal in its future before the start of training camp to truly change leadership and also change the makeup of the roster.
My math says that in an ideal world the Carolina Hurricanes would still like to add:
1) A left shot top 4 defenseman
As part of the posturing, Don Waddell talked about Brett Pesce playing on his off side with Justin Faulk. Sure it could work, but this seems more like a hope than a plan. Pesce has not played any significant amount on his off side in three years in the NHL. And at last check, Faulk was far from being the steady and solid top 4 who could help make such an imperfect situation work. Though Waddell is saying otherwise to avoid as much as possible having to trade Faulk from a position of weakness.
2) More offense
I think that is true regardless of if Skinner is actually traded. The team finished in the bottom third of the NHL in scoring in 2017-18, so I think it needs more offensive with or without Jeff Skinner on the opening day roster.
A left defenseman
1) Calvin de Haan from free agency
I continue to think that overpaying slightly in salary to avoid having to give up anything at all in terms of trade assets is an interesting possibility. Is it possible that the reason de Haan is still unsigned is because the Hurricanes have a top bid on the table tentatively but dependent on Faulk being traded first? One can hope. De Haan is exactly the type of steady and efficient defenseman who could complement Hamilton.
2) Torey Krug via trade for Jeff Skinner
Having missed out on John Tavares, the Boston Bruins are allegedly shopping for scoring help. In addition, they are supposedly shopping Torey Krug. Krug is an offensively capable top 4, left shot defenseman who puts up points. He would fit with trying to boost the scoring by upgrading the back end.
3) Jake Muzzin via trade for Jeff Skinner
When the Los Angeles Kings added Ilya Kovalchuk, the expectation was that any interest that the Kings might have had for Skinner would dissipate. But the Kings supposedly had a deal in place for Max Pacioretty who is also a left wing who can score, so might they still be looking for another scorer like Skinner? Like Krug, Jake Muzzin has two years remaining on his current contract, so such a deal would provide at least two years of help.
The free agent options to add offense at this time are slim. The more likely path to adding offense would be trading Justin Faulk. Skinner is also a possibility but it would be odd for a team to trade higher-end offense just to replace it and basically tread water.
1) Nazem Kadri via trade for Justin Faulk
Faulk to Toronto who needs blue line help comes around every once in awhile in trade discussion. I think everyone would be thrilled with William Nylander, but I think he is part of the core that forms the top 2 lines. Kasperi Kapanen’s name comes up too, but as a player who has yet to really establish himself as a top half of the roster player at the NHL level, I view him as a prospect with upside and a fairly high floor. But what about Nazem Kadri? He is a useful player and source of scoring depth, but with Tavares in the fold for $11 million per year, Nylander likely to get $7 million when he re-signs this summer and Matthews likely to be paid something in the neighborhood of Tavares, is it possible that a good $4 million per year center is not a luxury that the Maple Leafs can afford starting in 2019-20 when Matthews’ new contract kicks in. And the blue line continues to be the weakest part of the Leafs’ lineup. So if they view Faulk as a capable right shot top 4 defenseman, these two players could be a starting point for a deal that makes sense on a couple levels. I am not sure how Hurricanes fans would feel about having Kadri in a Hurricanes uniform, but the team’s leadership did say it wanted to become more difficult to play against. Kadri could be part of that initiative.
2) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins via trade for Justin Faulk
No set of Hurricanes trade possibilities would be complete without at least one ‘Oilers forward for Faulk entry’. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would provide a modest scoring boost, but maybe equally importantly, he would do so in the form of a good all-around center who could solidify the lineup a bit.
Trying to build chains of moves
Justin Faulk is traded for a scoring forward => Calvin deHaan is signed as a free agent => Jeff Skinner is traded primarily for high-end futures possibly with a depth forward or defenseman included
By adding de Haan via free agency instead of trade, this version of dealing sees the Hurricanes replace Faulk, replace Skinner and still net a nice pile of futures to boot.
Jeff Skinner is traded for Krug => Justin Faulk is traded for Ryan Nugent Hopkins => A depth forward or defenseman is added via free agency
Two simple swaps could see the Hurricanes trade defense for offense and then the reverse to basically swap in new players for Skinner and Faulk and in the process revamp the team’s leadership
What say you Canes fans?
1) What is the probability the Jeff Skinner is traded? What is the probability that Justin Faulk is traded? What is the probability that both are dealth?
2) If you were general manager, which of the two would you trade?
3) What types of deals would you be looking to do for Skinner and/or Faulk?