Happy Fourth of July to fellow Caniacs in the United States!
If you are checking in to find analysis of Friday’s Calvin de Haan sighting, you can find that interrelated article HERE.
Sometimes when something just makes too much sense (in my opinion anyway), I latch onto it and chirp at it incessantly. (Sorry about the Max Pacioretty thing last winter.) But every so often the annoyance eventually yields fruit.
After beating the ‘why the Canes should sign Calvin de Haan’ thing into the ground for multiple days, the deal actually occurred. Under cover of the night heading into a national holiday, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they had signed Calvin de Haan to a four-year contract for $4.55 million per year.
I discussed the Calvin de Haan signing in some detail HERE and also retraced the trail of targeting him as an addition.
As I noted in that article, I expected the order to be reversed with Justin Faulk being traded first and then Calvin De Haan being signed either simultaneously or shortly thereafter. Though the order is a bit different, I still fully expect the end game to be the same.
The current Carolina Hurricanes blue line
Top 4-capable (or at least hopeful) right shot defensemen (3): Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk.
Top 4-capable (or at least hopeful) left shot defensemen (2): Jaccob Slavin, Calvin, de Haan.
Third pairing defensemen (2): Trevor van Riemsdyk (needs to be signed), Haydn Fleury.
When one nets it out, the Hurricanes now have on extra top 4 defensemen on the right side of the blue line. With Hamilton and de Haan just acquired, Justin Faulk figures to be the odd man out.
Some might think that he could just drop down to the third pairing especially with Trevor van Riemsdyk unsigned and at least per reports not seeing eye to eye with team management on his next contract. But even the expensive version of van Riemsdyk at something like $3 million per year is half of the $6 million (salary not cap hit) that Faulk is scheduled to earn in the two years remaining for his current contract.
I will be very surprised if Justin Faulk makes it to training camp still with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Seems simple enough to do a deal then. Right?
As obvious as it is that Justin Faulk is likely to depart, Don Waddell and the Hurricanes brain trust still has its work cut out for it to make it happen. Faulk supposedly has a partial no-trade list that kicked in on July 1. (This was reported by Bob McKenzie from TSN but does not show up on Capfriendly, so who knows what for sure is the real situation.) Regardless, Faulk’s mixed bag for 2017-18 could make some potential suitors disinterested. His cap hit is not astronomical at $4.8 million, but is enough to force calculator work. And then there is the matter of a fair return for an alleged top 4 defenseman who was not great in that role last season.
Adding to the complexity is the fact that the Hurricanes are probably still aggressively shopping Jeff Skinner. There has simply been too much (confirmed) noise about such deals being considered for this not also to be in process. With a full no-trade clause and a contract that expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, Skinner’s situation is even more complex.
In addition, if you assume that Trevor van Riemsdyk is re-signed for $2.5 million per year, the Hurricanes are suddenly about $8 million above the salary cap floor. The team could trade one of Skinner or Faulk for futures and not take significant salary back and still be safely above the salary cap floor by a few million dollars, but trading both without taking back significant salary on at least one would not work.
But the fact that the left shot replacement for Faulk was signed as a free agent does add flexibility. No longer do the Hurricanes need to obtain a defenseman back in one of these two trades. As such, the team has two higher-end players that might be traded but arguably only has one needed return (a scoring-capable top half of the roster player).
So the flexibility could play a significant role in the end result.
What is the ideal outcome?
At a basic level, I stand by the first of two domino scenarios that I proposed in Tuesday’s Daily Cup of Joe before the de Haan signing.
Justin Faulk is traded for a scoring forward => Calvin deHaan is signed as a free agent => Jeff Skinner is traded primarily for high-end futures possibly with a depth forward or defenseman included
By adding de Haan via free agency instead of trade, this version of dealing sees the Hurricanes replace Faulk, replace Skinner and still net a nice pile of futures to boot.
I still think that is the ideal scenario. Because of the no-trade clause and possible requirement that the acquiring team would want to have a contract extension already agreed to, Skinner’s situation could well play out deep into the summer. I think the ideal thing to do would be to trade Faulk to add scoring help. Even if Skinner stays, the team could use more offensive fire power, but the deal could also pave the way to being more flexible with a Skinner trade and taking a haul of futures and/or young players.
Trading Skinner to obtain the scoring help to replace his departure could be hard to do. Any team acquiring Skinner would be doing so with the aim of boosting their offense, so giving up a comparable forward would just be two steps forward and then two steps back. And with the Hurricanes no longer needing top 4 level defensive help, a three-way trade could be possible, but I also think simpler might be to use Faulk to add forward help and then trade Skinner to collect a high-end set of futures possible with a depth NHLer included in the package.
So I think the ideal outcome goes like this:
1) Justin Faulk is traded for a comparable forward who is proven at the NHL level and leans offense.
2) Jeff Skinner is later dealt with the primary return being a high-end package of futures.
So let’s do deals…
Since most of what I predict/suggest is purely from a position of logic and not from the regular batch of rumors making the rounds, some of what I suggest seems to come out of left field. But at the end of the day, deals happen because there is rationale for them from both teams’ perspective. So if one can think through all of the angles for different teams, it is possible (like in the case of the de Haan deal) come up with deals that are viable despite not making the rounds with the NHL media.
In that vein, the deal that I actually thinks makes the most sense is one that I proposed in the Tuesday article, pre-de Haan signing. With the Maple Leafs strong at forward (and now even stronger with John Tavares) and the Hurricanes at least theoretically deep on defense, the two have been bandied around by just about everyone as possible trade partners for two years. The current iteration has the Hurricanes trying to trade Faulk or previously Hanifin for William Nylander. As part of the four-player forward core, I would be shocked if the Leafs would even entertain a deal like this. Then from the Leafs side, I sometimes here people suggest Kasperi Kapanen and AHL goalie prospect Garrett Sparks. I think Sparks being a primary component is just as crazy as Nylander. At best, Sparks is a prospect who has yet to prove he can succeed at the NHL level. Kapanen is a bit more of a sure thing at least as a third-line forward, but he too has yet to really prove what he can do at the NHL level. As such, I count both as high-end prospects and not a great starting point to build a package that entices the Hurricanes. But with the addition of John Tavares, I think the new wild card is Nazem Kadri. Kadri is suddenly a third-line center on a team that should generate a bunch of offense with its top two lines. And with salary cap crunch coming for the Leafs is it possible that Kadri is suddenly expendable? Despite the fact Kadri’s name has not been a regular one in the trade rumor mill, I just think it makes too much sense not to at least be a possiblity.
Past Kadri and the Leafs, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins from the Oilers has long been a regular in trade considerations. Like Kadri, Nugent-Hopkins would add another proven offensive center.
When I get back to Canes hockey after the Fourth of July, my hope is to do a deeper inspection of all of the other 30 NHL teams hoping to identify a couple other targets that could make sense despite not being regulars in the rumor mill.
But at a simple level, the goal would be to unload Faulk to add a comparable level scoring forward.
A wild card
With the Hurricanes adding one higher-end need without giving up trade assets to do so, could it be possible to trade trade either Jeff Skinner or Justin Faulk possibly with Petr Mrazek to add a higher-end goalie?
What say you Canes fans?
1) Is a deal trading Faulk now inevitable?
2) Do you agree that with Calvin de Haan acquired via free agency, that the Hurricanes might now have the flexibility to collect futures instead of a comparable NHL player for Skinner and/or Faulk?
3) Who has potential forward trade targets that are not regulars in the rumor mill but could make sense?