The 2019 NHL Draft weekend is officially here and with it the start of the two-week frenzy that includes the majority of the significant off-season player movement.
The Hurricanes are making a regular entry in the rumblings and rumors for the second straight year which has some merit given that the team has a couple needs and also some marketable young players.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe has the courage to go out on a limb and predict the weekend and beyond.
On Brett Pesce
Brett Pesce’s name continues to come in trade rumors. That has one set of people predicting trades involving Brett Pesce and antoher set of people increasing their hedging verbiage that he will stay with words like ‘doubt he will go’, ‘would take a lot’ or other things tha prevent them from being wrong if he is traded.
I will go out on a limb and say first that Pesce’s name will continue to be front and center on Friday and into Saturday in the rumor mill but at the same time that he is not really in jeopardy of being traded. I think what is happening is a few things. First, invariably teams are in fact asking about Pesce and/or proposing offers to get him. As I said on Twitter, who would not want a proven, right shot top 4 defenseman who is only 24 years old and signed long-term for a discounted $4 million per year? So since his name is in fact in conversations, I guess it is legitimate that he is also being mentioned in the rumor mill. And no doubt Don Waddell is fielding calls from these teams because he does have interest in the forwards that are being offered — just not for Pesce.
So Pesce will legitimately be in the rumor mill on Friday and Saturday but will never actually be even close to being traded and we will wake up when the draft weekend is over with Brett Pesce still on the Hurricanes roster.
So if there is so much interest and value in Brett Pesce, why shouldn’t the Hurricanes consider trading him? Two reasons…First, the Hurricanes spent about five years waiting for a young blue line to emerge and become a strength. It actually took reinforcements in Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan to get there, but it finally happened in 2018-19. That blue line was a key component in finally returning to the playoffs. I view Pesce as a core part of that success and also the team’s best defensive defenseman over the full 82-game season. So after FINALLY building a blue line that is a strength, some want to trade a core part of it in Pesce because he has trade value? Admittedly, the version of how I see it is one that considers Pesce to be a significantly more important part of this equation than Faulk. (I am on record as saying that for some time and stand by it.) Second is the importance of cost in today’s NHL. Pesce is slated to make $4 million per year for five years. That is an outright bargain if Pesce continues to play at his current level. If the Hurricanes instead decide to trade Pesce and re-sign Faulk, his cost could be $8 million per year. Even if one considers the two players to be somewhat interchangeable (I do not), that difference between $4 million and $8 million is significant.
With the swirling rumors suggesting otherwise I guess I must now prepare to possibly eat crow on this one.
Based on the interest in Pesce, I think Friday night and Saturday are basically a 36-hour stretch of Waddell saying no thank you to a bunch of offers for Pesce. But many of the teams that will be active in the trade discussions are teams that more or less have deadlines to cut salary and do so fairly soon. Waddell is smart enough to know this, and he has a decent collection of assets that could help teams in this regard. Players like Brock McGinn and Lucas Wallmark have a decent amount of NHL experience such that they are capable bottom 6 forwards who come with a low salary cap hit.
So I think Waddell can and will make a couple of decent what I call ‘Sunday morning’ offers which is to say offers that underpay slightly in trade assets but do offer some return and help to salary cap-strapped teams. At some point, teams like Winnipeg, Toronto and other teams needing cap relief will have to shift from bargaining for what they ideally want to taking the best that they can get.
This is where I think Waddell tries to opportunistically swing his next ‘oh wow’ deal.
Components of Canes trade offers
I see the Hurricanes using some combination of three types of assets to build packages aimed at luring a top 6 forward.
Justin Faulk — I continue to think that he is the defenseman most likely to be traded.
Inexpensive bottom half of the roster NHLers — At forward Lucas Wallmark and Brock McGinn bring different types of reasonably proven bottom 6 NHL forwards. On defense, Haydn Fleury could fill a third pairing slot for a sub $1 million salary.
Futures — I do not see the Hurricanes trading a first-round pick or one of the higher-end prospects, but I could see the Hurricanes dipping into the second tier of prospects or draft picks.
Justin Faulk + Brock McGinn + second round draft pick to a team that needs blue line help and is willing to part with a top 6 scoring forward.
Lucas Wallmark + Brock McGinn + mid-round draft pick to a team that needs salary cap relief and low-cost roster NHLers to make it work.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you agree that the Pesce rumors and rumblings are just that and that he is not really available at all?
2) What is your outlook for the Hurricanes over the draft weekend?
3) Who has deals they predict?