Today’s Daily Cup of Joe includes a small collection of random Canes notes that have not found their way into articles yet or could benefit from a deeper dive.
Blue line depth, Justin Faulk and the potential impact on Adam Fox
In the blockbuster trade that sent Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary for Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland, the Hurricanes also obtained an extra bonus in prospect Adam Fox. Fox is not just a low to mid-tier throw in. He is a high-end blue line prospect who I (and others since then) rate above Jake Bean who previously topped the team’s blue line prospect rankings. Fox was allegedly available because the Flames thought he would not sign but rather would play out four years of college and then become a free agent.
The burning question is whether the Hurricanes can convince him to sign next summer after his junior year. Personal factors and other things could come into play, but looking at the situation solely from the angle of Fox considering his opportunity joining the Hurricanes versus signing with another team, there are a few things to consider.
First is the logjam on the right side of the Hurricanes blue line right now. With Justin Faulk still in tow, the team has four proven NHL defensemen who are right shots right now. That does not look great for Fox hoping to get NHL ice time sooner rather than later. Just in general, the strength of the Hurricanes blue line is a negative right now for Fox.
But I think somewhat of a path could be cleared if Faulk is traded as I expect. Then the team can pitch the possibility that Trevor van Riemsdyk leaves eventually and also the general lack of depth in terms of blue line prospects. Just maybe that and persona preference is enough to get Fox signed.
Michael Fora as Niclas Wallin
Last spring, the Hurricanes signed Swiss defenseman Michael Fora to an entry-level contract. As a player who will turn 23 years old on October 31, he is not your typical young prospect. He is farther along in his professional career and with more experience. Might he be NHL-ready sooner rather than later and ready to fill a depth role somewhat similarly to Niclas Wallin who the Canes drafted at an older age partly because of his NHL-readiness?
Locked in long-term
Many are talking about how the Carolina Hurricanes suddenly have one of the best blue lines in the NHL. If that proves to be true on the ice for the 2018-19 season, the team is in a great position fairly long-term. The entire top 4 (which I consider to be Slavin, Pesce, Hamilton and de Haan) is locked up for three years. Slavin and Pesce are actually signed for six and five years respectively after the 2018-19 season. De Haan will have three years remaining on his current deal and Hamilton two. The team also controls Fleury’s rights long-term with him just being a restricted free agent next summer. Only Faulk and van Riemsdyk could leave soon with both becoming unrestricted free agents in two years. Having players locked up long-term is a double edged sword. It is a positive if the players perform but equally a negative if they do not. But at a basic level, I think one has to like the state of the blue line right now and also the fact that the team can ride the core of it for multiple years.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Do you think the strength of the Hurricanes blue line and the limited space it offers for a player like Adam Fox short-term could be a negative in signing Fox?
2) For those who have seen him in prospect camp and/or Traverse City, what is your impression of Michael Fora and his NHL-readiness? Could he fast track to the NHL like Niclas Wallin? Or is he just AHL-level depth with some ability to grow to NHL-level in a couple years?