On the chance that William Nylander comes back into play in July
On Saturday, it was announced that that the circus had officially ended right at the deadline. The Toronto Maple Leafs had re-signed William Nylander to accountant’s special for six years for just under $7 million per year. The contract puts a temporary end to speculation on if and who might trade for him. But with the potential for ill will building up, the Maple Leafs’ impending salary cap challenges and most significantly the contract structure, it is possible that the whole thing restarts in July. After the Maple Leafs pay a huge signing bonus for the 2019-20 season, Nylander’s average salary is an inexpensive sub $5 million per year for the five remaining years for a team that can fit the salary cap. Could the Canes be back in the mix if a round two kicks off in July?
On the Hurricanes possibly being in the mix over the past week or two
Shortly after the deal was announced, I said the following on Twitter:
William Nylander is a good player. He could have helped #Canes. But I would not give up a similarly good player like Pesce (whose contract is below market value) to get Nylander at high end of range at $7M per year. #Canes do need to add scoring, but there are other options.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) December 1, 2018
The Tweet is the short version of a longer article that said that I would not do the Brett Pesce for William Nylander that was thought to be the potential deal between the two teams. In short, as much as the Hurricanes do need another scorer or two right now, top 4 defensemen like Brett Pesce are also hard to find, and I did not like the idea of trading Pesce’s discounted contract for what I figured would be a pricey one for Nylander.
On the need for more scoring fire power
But that said, the Hurricanes do desperately need another player or two who can put the puck in the net or help someone else do it. With Micheal Ferland out of the lineup with a concussion, the team’s need for more scoring has reached a fever pitch. Just scoring two goals each in the past two games would have netted a perfect for points. Instead, the team had to settle for a single overtime loss point after scoring only once on Friday and then being shut out on Sunday. So no doubt the need is there.
On other options for scoring help
The starting point for finding scoring options right now via trade is to look at teams and/or players that are struggling. Sunday’s opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, would definitely qualify. In addition, there are a handful of players like James Neal who have a strong scoring track record but are not putting the puck in the net so far in 2018-19.
At a basic level, there are two paths. First, is to take some risk with a player who is struggling right now. Could the Hurricanes take on a current underperformer without taking on much other than contract risk?
The other option is to trade a good player to get one. During the summer, I laid out a three-step transformation that included signing Calvin de Haan and then simultaneously trading Justin Faulk for a scoring forward and Jeff Skinner for futures. The issue is that the Hurricanes completed only two-thirds of the checklist which left the the team with Faulk and an extra top 4 defenseman but also one short at forward in terms of back filling Jeff Skinner’s slot.
Justin Faulk is playing well and should have more value than he did during the summer. The difficult question is whether the team should keep him now that he is playing well or if it should instead trade from a position of strength. If one goes the first route of not trading a player who has rebounded, the unintended result is that a team only trades players at low points in value. Personally, if the right deal came along, I would consider trading Faulk not because Faulk is not a useful player right now but actually because he is and could net much-needed scoring help.
My hope is to write a deeper dive on possible scoring help options in the next few days.
What say you Caniacs?
1) How desperate is the need to trade for scoring help? Might the team figure it out on its own and/or win because of defense/goaltending? Or is the season doomed if the team cannot pull off a trade to better the offense?
2) With Justin Faulk’s rebound, are you more inclined to keep him now? Or are you more inclined to trade him from a position of strength to add offense?
3) If you were general manager, who would you consider targeting via trade right now?