In the wee hours of the morning late Sunday night dripping into Monday morning the elves at Canes and Coffee posted a mini-novel on the Hurricanes blue line situation and suggested that at some point adjustments would need to be made to clear the backlog both short-term and long-term.

You can find that article entitled, “Deeper dive into Hurricanes blue line situation both short-term and long-term” HERE if you missed it.

That article became especially timely when about 10 hours later news broke that talks were ongoing for a possible Justin Faulk trade to the Anaheim Ducks.

Elliotte Friedman followed up by noting that Faulk’s no-trade clause could be an obstacle.

Maybe a bit late to the party, Luke DeCock chimed in for the local media suggesting a possible return in the trade.

Carolina Hurricanes blue line situation

Per my article from prior to all of the Twitter festivities, I think this makes sense at a basic level. Short-term, the Hurricanes need to eliminate a defenseman or two to avoid losing one for nothing on waivers. There is the possibility to resolve that with a much smaller deal trading from Gustav Forsling, Roland McKeown or Hadyn Fleury possibly just for futures (especially if it is McKeown or Forsling).

But longer-term, I do not see the Hurricanes keeping more than two of Justin Faulk, Dougie Hamilton and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the right side and it might only be one. Faulk and van Riemsdyk are due for new contracts and possibly sizable raises next summer, and Dougie Hamilton’s contract comes up the following summer. So it follows that the Hurricanes would at least consider calls on any of these three players.

And with Hamilton locked in for one more year and Faulk potentially slated for $7-8 million per year on a long-term deal this summer, the team ideally needs to decide sooner rather than later if Faulk is a $7-8M long-term cornerstone of the blue line or if instead they should at least consider collecting trade value instead.


Considering Justin Faulk

Not surprisingly based on my historical opinion of Faulk, I lean toward collecting a return. I was early on calling out his sub-par play a couple years back when he was still paired with Ron Hainsey. Giving credit where it is due, he rebounded and had a strong 2018-19 season which is why he has the value he does right now. But especially if his next contract clocks in at north of $7 million, I view his downside risk as significantly greater than his upside. That is not a good risk/reward trade off. I attribute a significant amount of Faulk’s struggles for a period of time to being just a hair slow especially in terms of quickness in small spaces. At 27 years old, the potential for that situation to rise again is not a risk I would take for a maximum dollar type contract.

But also as noted in my Monday Daily Cup of Joe, it is not imperative that the Hurricanes trade Faulk now or even necessarily before next summer. The Hurricanes are refreshingly now a team that is trying to win now. As such, if Faulk boosts the team’s prospects for the 2019-20 season but then departs via free agency next summer, that is not a horrible outcome, especially if “boosts” has to do with a shot at a big shiny, silver prize.


Possible return from Anaheim

As far as a possible return from Anaheim, Luke DeCock from the News & Observer named Ondrej Kase. At a basic level, Kase brings higher-end speed and skill and a high ceiling in terms of possible scoring production. His $2.6 million salary for two years is cap-friendly even if Kase just became a top 9 forward who scored at a decent depth level. If instead, he clicked with the Hurricanes and scored more like a top 6 forward, he becomes a significant bargain. But the issue with Kase is how disjointed his production has been. He has had numerous trips to injured reserve including two concussions. Sometimes the term ‘injury prone’ can be overused for players who suffered multiply random luck injuries, but I think with Kase it would be fair to consider him an injury risk.

Past Kase, Hurricanes fans would love Rakell who no way would be available. But might a player for player hockey trade include Jakob Silfverberg or Adam Henrique? I think more likely the trade will include a younger player and/or prospects.


Faulk’s say and the tough part of the business

The deciding factor will likely be Justin Faulk. Per Friedman’s report, it sounds like Anaheim was not only Faulk’s approved list which would mean that he would need to agree to be traded there. In addition, he would most certainly need to agree to an extension, as I do not expect that Anaheim will be interested in a short-term rental.

This the brutal part of the hockey business. Faulk spent seven years on losing Hurricanes teams. Then, he finally gets a taste of playoff hockey and seemingly the team is looking to push forward without him. Sure, he has a no-trade clause and can stay another year (maybe if team does not find another deal), but usually players agree to move on once the team decides to.


The possibility of an ulterior motive?

An unlikely but interesting wild card is the possibility that the team is exerting pressure to get a favorable next contract from Faulk. The market price for him could be $7-8 million per year, but the Hurricanes pecking order has Slavin at $5.3 million, Pesce at $4.1 million and now Gardiner at $4.1 million. Is it possible that this is a move to force Faulk to process leaving just when things are getting good in Raleigh and make him consider taking a sizable discount on his next deal to stay? I do not think that is completely out of the question with the team now in a position to exercise leverage with three long-timers signed on the blue line.


What say you Canes fans?

Your thoughts in general on the Justin Faulk speculation that dropped on Monday?

Go Canes!

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