Today’s Daily Cup of Joe revisits the rumors and rumblings about the Hurricanes allegedly being in the market for Patrik Laine (again).

The tweet that restarted this is here…

I start with what I originally said on Twitter back during round one in September. If you are already familiar with that, feel free to scroll down to where I offer some thoughts on a scenario that could make sense.


Mostly sticking with my original thoughts

Way back in early September when the consensus seemed to lean toward thinking, Patrik Laine could be a good fit for the Carolina Hurricanes reuniting with Sebastian Aho, I voted strongly the other way in the Twitter thread that follows.

So netting it out, Laine could fit at a player/role level, but there are two problems. First is that the trade requirements at least as published are broken. Second is that the salary cap math is broken with the need to already re-sign Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton next summer.

The current ask seems to center around Brett Pesce and then wants more. I would not trade Brett Pesce at $4 million per year for Laine who will cost $7-10 million per year when he re-signs next summer if he has a strong season in terms of goal scoring next to Aho. Laine is an elite scorer but not an elite player. I compare him to Jeff Skinner in that sense. Since salaries, especially for forwards, tend to be driven by offensive production, the result is that Laine could be a player who garners $7-10 million as someone who is maybe a $9-10 million scorer but is only a $5-6 million player because his game is a bit one-dimensional. So if one takes my numbers to be on target, the result is that Laine could be overpaid by $4 million. Pesce on the other hand is signed for $4 million per year when the going rate for solid top 4 defensemen is easily $6 million (even minus a ton of offensive production). So Pesce is discounted by $2 million. So a one for one swap of Pesce at $4 million for Laine at say $8 million sees the Hurricanes minus $4 million (counting Laine’s value at $6 million) in terms of player value compared to player salary. A few years ago that might not have mattered as much, but with the Hurricanes now up against the salary cap, the ratio of player value to player performance is critical. When one considers that the Hurricanes are up against the cap and will see Svechnikov’s salary increase by $5 million or more next year when he signs his next contract, adding Laine makes even less sense unless the the Hurricanes can unload some salary in the deal.


So is this report just inaccurate or made up?

Actually no. The fact that the Hurricanes are in discussion with the Jets about Laine actually makes a ton of sense and here is why…

Winnipeg wants Laine for Pesce and Necas (or something like that). But the relationship between the Jets and Laine has very likely reached the point where neither really wants to work together long-term. If that is correct (which it almost certainly is), the Jets will start by making some offers that are favorable to them and try get fair value or better for Laine. But at the end of the day, they are at some point going to have to pull the trigger and take the best offer in front of them.

Enter the wheeling and dealing Don Waddell.

As I finished the previous section, “…unless the Hurricanes can unload some salary in the deal.” Right now the Hurricanes have Jake Gardiner making $4 million for three more years coming off a mostly tough (even with second half rebound) 2019-20 season and current projected to slot as a third pairing defenseman. The Hurricanes also have Nino Niederreiter similarly coming off a tough 2019-20 season, not clearly with a home inside the Canes top 9 and scheduled to make $5.25 million for this year and next. The Hurricanes also have Brady Skjei signed for four years at $5.25 million and Haydn Fleury who they will not be able to protect in next summer’s expansion draft if they re-sign (and protect) Dougie Hamilton. 4D chess would also be getting permission to talk to Laine’s agent to pre-negotiate an extension at a discount that Laine maybe begrudgingly accepts to make sure escapes Winnipeg and lands next to Aho. With that, the Canes maybe get a modest discount and assurance that his forward price does not get out of hand if he has a strong 2019-20 campaign.

At the point where none of Winnipeg’s favorable offers is accepted, might Waddell be able to put together a package that includes a proven top half of the roster player with contract term (Skjei or possibly Trocheck), a good young player with NHL experience (Fleury) a prospect or pick and a salary cap dump (Niederreiter or Gardiner) to make the salary cap math work going forward?

With the departure of their blue line core of Byfuglien, Trouba and Enstrom over the past couple years, the Jets could use a defenseman or two and are not real likely to win the heated bidding wars or be an attractive option for higher-end free agents during the summer. So Skjei locked up for four years fills a top 4 slot, and Fleury signed for two years and only RFA after that adds another defenseman for three or more years. With the core of Winnipeg’s offense reasonably strong, maybe that is enough even if not ideal if no better offers emerge. Laine seems destined to leave at some point anyway.

On the Hurricanes side, unloading Niederreiter or Gardiner does not in itself solve the math puzzle but does help in cutting salary in the form of a player who does not have a definite home in the top half of the lineup. As noted above, the Hurricanes have room to protect another forward in next summer’s expansion draft but seem destined to lose one of Skjei or Fleury anyway. The challenge would be backfilling the openings created on defense if it did in fact take both of Skjei and Fleury, but if only one departed the Hurricanes would still be fairly deep on defense.

So while the current names being circulated are a non-starter in my opinion, it completely  makes sense for Waddell to be engaged with Winnipeg right now to be in position for if/when Winnipeg gets to the point where they are just ready to move on with the best offer that they can get.

As an aside and staying consistent…I continue to think the real win would be somehow prying lose Nikolaj Ehlers who is a more well-rounded player with speed that fits what Brind’Amour wants on the wing and has five years remaining on his contract at a very reasonable $6 million per year. But it is unlikely that he is available.


What say you Canes fans?


1) Once Winnipeg gives up on getting what they really want, could the ball be on the tee for dealing Don Waddell to pull off another blockbuster offering a package that fills two defense slots for Winnipeg, offers a lesser young player/prospect than Necas and even manages to dump salary in the process?


2) Or does the potential price tag on Laine’s next contract right when Svechnikov and Hamilton need to be re-signed scare you off completely?


Go Canes!




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