With the official start of the NHL offseason rapidly approaching and the 2018 NHL Draft only two weeks away, player availability via trade runs rampant this time of year. And in stark contrast to years past, the Hurricanes and some of their big name players are popping up regularly. At least as far as early June speculation goes, Jeff Skinner would rate at or near the top of any list of big name players who could be moved. Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin are also allegedly available. The Hurricanes would undoubtedly love to unload three years of Scott Darling if the price is not too high. And so on…
So with the Hurricanes at least potentially offering higher-end players onto the market it seems only right to start looking around for what the Hurricanes might want in return.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe for Friday is part one of at least two shopping the rest of the NHL for players who could play a role in a Hurricanes’ resurgence.
Ryan O’Reilly is the big name who has been bandied about as available. He is maybe not the pure offensive type center that might be ideal, but when you get the chance to add the type of center who can match up against anyone and hold his own, you do not look the gift horse in the mouth. O’Reilly’s contract situation is more favorable than first glance. His $7.5 million yearly cap hit for five years looks a little bit high. But when you look at the details, he has one more expensive year at $8.5 million before four years at a reasonable $6 million per year.
The thing that the Blackhawks have that most entices me is actually not a player. Rather, it is the potential to take Scott Darling back without it being crazy. Nowhere else could one make a more plausible story for a rebound in 2018-19 for Darling. No doubt the Hurricanes would have to eat salary, probably even the maximum 50 percent, but at that price his $2 million cap hit starts to look like a fit for the Blackhawks who need a viable #2 given Corey Crawford’s medical situation in 2017-18.
Los Angeles Kings
If the Kings are interested in Jeff Skinner, Jake Muzzin would be an interesting return. Muzzin might be just the steady type of defenseman that the Hurricanes need to solidify the second defense pairing. With two years remaining on his contract at an inexpensive $4 million per year, he slots nicely price-wise as well. Tyler Toffoli is another player whose name seems to find its way into the rumor mill intermittently. Ideally, I think the Aho/Teravainen duo would benefit most from more of a power forward, but Toffoli has enough skill and finishing ability to be interesting. Like Muzzin, Toffoli has two years remaining on his contract at a mid-range $4.6 million.
I still like Max Pacioretty. The fact that he only has one season remaining on his contract is maybe not ideal, but I like him as the type of veteran finisher who would complement Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and provide the fuel necessary to help them become point per game players. If Pacioretty joins and clicks with Aho and Teravainen, I think the logic and probability of re-signing increases. If he does not click, perhaps not re-signing him is not the worst thing. And no, I am NOT touching Carey Price and his Rick DiPietro like contract even though price is significantly better than DiPietro.
The big name here is Erik Karlsson. With the arrival of the offseason, the number of teams who could make the salary cap math work increases. That said, the Hurricanes have both cap flexibility and the potential to offer a high-end replacement for Karlsson in Faulk if Ottawa sees him as top 4-capable. The fact that he would cost a bunch and could be gone after only one year when his contract expires could make Karlsson a high stakes gamble. But might the generational talent offensively on the blue line be worth it?
Toronto Maple Leafs
We are a couple years deep into offseason commentary suggesting that the Leafs’ forward heavy youth at the NHL level and the Hurricanes’ defense heavy youth could make for good trading partners. Lately, I have seen people try to pawn off a lesser player and still net Noah Hanifin in return. William Nylander is still the target. Nylander is very much in a the same category as Sebastian Aho as a young player who has already established himself offensively at the NHL level.
In terms of trying to build better and younger but also quickly, the Canucks’ #7 overall pick looks interesting. Could that pick be high enough to net a player who is NHL-ready either immediately or within a year? With the Sedins on the way out, the Canucks could be looking to start anew with a big addition. Could the Hurricanes list of allegedly available players be a match?
What say you Canes fans?
1) Which, if any, of the players noted do you think would be a good addition and worth an expensive price in trade?
2) Do you have any other players who you would target either from these teams or others?