Running a bit late and having two partially written DCoJ articles that both have partly to do with the second round of the playoffs ending, today’s Daily Cup of Joe will catch up on some news and notes that have been jotted here or there but not made it into an article yet.
The Swedes – Congrats to Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, Eddie Lack and Joakim Nordstrom
Hopefully everyone is active on Twitter and spent some time poking around on Monday. The fun in Sweden when the team returned after winning the gold medal in the IIHF ranks nearly as high as the fun in Nashville this week. And with four Hurricanes players (Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, Joakim Nordstrom and Eddie Lack) involved, the win and festivities had intermittent Hurricanes’ appearances including Eddie Lack spraying champagne through the entire locker room and Victor Rask looking downright jovial.
I have already started working on a assembling a group of people to show at the Hurricanes first practice in September wearing the gold helmets that adorned the players at the celebration in Sweden.
I root for my home country first obviously but am still happy for our players’ success.
First and foremost, Klas Dahlbeck was signed to provide the ‘experienced player’ offering necessary to shield Justin Faulk (the only other option) from the expansion draft. But Dahlbeck will not likely be selected and lost in the expansion draft. As such, he slots somewhere between 6 and 8 on the Hurricanes’ depth chart.
The more I think about the possible scenarios for the bottom part of the Hurricanes’ 2017-18 blue line, the more I think Dahlbeck is a poor fit.
As a depth defenseman, a player ideally needs some ability to play reasonably well on either side of the ice, so he can fill whatever hole is created by an injury. Dahlbeck struggled mightily playing on his the right side which is his off side. Somewhere along the way, he said that he had not done that prior, and he did not make a smooth adjustment. His game only stepped up when he got back to playing on his natural left side late in the season when Hanifin moved up, and he spent a bunch of time next to Ryan Murphy or Matt Tennyson.
And when you consider where a depth defenseman is most likely to be needed, I think it is again the right side. With the current roster, Noah Hanifin slots as the #4 defenseman, and I think the front runner to win one of the two third pairing slots will be rookie Haydn Fleury who is a left shot. If that proves to be correct, the opening would be on the right side of the third pairing playing with a young defenseman who could use some support and help while he adjusts to the pace and pressure of the NHL game. Playing next to Hanifin in 2016-17 was almost the exact same situation, and it did not go well. With Murphy still in tow, I guess Peters could use Murphy or Dahlbeck based on which side of the ice he needed help, but ideal would be to have more flexibility in Dahlbeck’s slot.
A freshly-signed comparable contract for Jaccob Slavin
Last week, I wrote a detailed article suggesting that the time was now to re-sign Jaccob Slavin and doing a deep dive on comparable contracts to arrive at a range and also pinpointed salary target. Somehow in my work, I missed the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs had already re-signed Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev had risen up to become a steady top 4 defenseman on an emerging Maple Leafs team and even chipped in 36 points in 2016-17 to boot. His contract came in at 7 years at $4.5 million annually which I would consider a slight negative in terms of benchmarking Slavin’s next contract. In putting forward the strongest case possible, I think Slavin’s agent could make a decent case for slightly more based on the fact that Slavin is a bit younger at 23 years old (vs. Zaitsev at 25), a bit more proven with two years of NHL experience to Zaitsev’s one and playing in a slightly higher role. Even if Francis negotiates back down to Slavin being equal to Zaitsev, it seems to set a benchmark at $4.5 million which is not outlandish but is slightly higher than the $4-4.25 million target that I am wishfully hoping for.
Clearing out the Q
In looking at a spreadsheet that I have for the Hurricanes prospects below the AHL level, one thing I noticed was that the QMJHL category is on target to be empty out. Callum Booth, Nicolas Roy and Spencer Smallman from the 2015 draft class had all signed NHL contracts and are scheduled to jump to the AHL level. In addition, Julien Gauthier is old enough to move to the AHL despite being a 2016 draftee, and the best guess right now is that he will in fact do so. With the QMJHL garnering fewer NHL draft picks than the other Canadian junior leagues, the Hurricanes contingent of four QMJHL prospects for the 2016-17 season was fairly high. (It varies by year obviously, but in 2016 only about 7 percent (14 out of 210) of draftees were from the QMJHL.) Here is hoping that the Hurricanes select at least one player from the Q in the 2017 NHL draft to stay active in all of the Canadian junior leagues.
Mark your calendars for June 15-17 and 21-23
There are many segments of the summer schedule that will play into Ron Francis’ work to build the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes roster. Early on, he will need to make qualifying offers which will yield news as to whether Andrej Nestrasil stays or goes. The potential to re-sign the team’s free agents runs pretty much throughout the summer. The team will lose a player and also see a chance to maybe do an expansion draft-related deal in the week leading up to the June 18-20 expansion draft and the June 21 official announcement. The buy out window runs through the second half of June ending on June 30. And free agency kicks off on July 1.
Pre-expansion draft (June 15-17)
But out of all of the dates and time blocks, I see two time frames when I would most expect to see Francis make a big deal. First is June 15-17 which leads right up to the expansion draft which occurs on June 18-20 (and is announced on June 21). During this time frame Las Vegas and teams will be going back and forth trying to do deals to keep otherwise exposed players which will also see teams look for plan B’s (basically trading a player or two away) if Las Vegas’ demands are too high. Francis is in a unique position in that he could add and protect a forward or a defenseman. In the case of forward, it would push another player off the protected list, but only another depth player from Stempniak, Di Giuseppe and McGinn. So if a team looks to collect some value for a player instead of exposing him to the expansion draft.
Before the second round of the regular NHL draft (June 21-23)
After the dust settles on the expansion draft when the selections are announced on June 21, teams will quickly reassess and adjust based on the expansion draft results and trades. Two days later the draft starts. Deals can happen all summer obviously, but I think Francis has a fairly high incentive to work hard to close the deals he wants before the start of day two of the NHL draft. The reason is because his greatest and preferred currency is extra draft picks. If Francis does a deal, it could draw upon the three extra draft picks that he has in the second and third rounds of the 2017 NHL draft. Those picks expire, so to speak, on Saturday when the Hurricanes will use them. Sure, the Hurricanes could trade the players drafted, but they will invariably have less marketability and value. Each team has different players that they like in certain places in the draft, so any given player might not be of much value to a team that had him rated lower than the Hurricanes. Francis could instead dip into his draft picks for 2018, but that is less than ideal in two ways. First, those picks too would have less value because the receiving team would need to wait a full year to use them. In addition, the Hurricanes do not have extra picks for 2018, so Francis might prefer not to borrow picks from that draft and shorten his draft slate. Because of this situation, if Francis is going to do a deal that leverages his extra 2017 draft picks which is definitely a possibility, he needs to act by Friday, June 23 (or early on Saturday, June 24).
So if we are doing a pool on when Francis makes his biggest move of the summer (not counting the Scott Darling deal) my wager is the 24-hour period starting at 12pm on Friday, June 23 and ending at 12pm on Saturday, June 24. If I get a second entry, I will take 12pm on June 16 ending and ending at 12pm on June 17 to balance my bets across the two drafts.
What say you Canes fans?
Will you agree to buy and wear a crazy gold helmet to honor the Hurricanes’ Swedish contingent at the first practice?
What do you think of my thoughts that Dahlbeck is not a great fit for the role he currently slots in? Am I making too much out of a depth role where you mostly get what you pay for?
Do you think Nikita Zaitsev’s deal pulls up Jaccob Slavin’s next contract just a little?
What two 24-hour time windows are you picking in the Francis’ deal pool?