Tonight starts one of the best runs of hockey during the off-season. On Wednesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes prospects take to the ice for the on-ice start of the team’s prospect camp. Practices on Wednesday and Thursday night at 5:30pm are free to attend as is a 12pm scrimmage on Saturday that wraps up a full morning of events.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will go a different direction. On June 15, I wrote an article entitled,“Things I seem to like more/less than most…” Today’s Daily Cup of Joe in a similar vein identifies three areas where my opinion differs significantly from what I see elsewhere either on social media for the Hurricanes fan base or in the broader NHL media.
I am on record back April (before the Scott Darling trade) as thinking that Eddie Lack would be gone before the start of the 2017-18 season. I stand by that but think I differ from many’s opinion in a few significant ways.
Trade potential for Eddie Lack: Unlike some, I do not think Lack has any trade value right now. He had a tough 2016-17 season in total following a 2015-16 season that was even rougher. Sure there is a chance that he rebounds, but I think there is no way that a team will bet $3 million (Lack’s 2017-18 salary) and a roster spot on an Eddie Lack rebound. For a lower price, a team could have its pick of multiple better options.
Viability of using Eddie Lack for #3 depth in the AHL: As much as it would be nice to have Lack as an emergency #3 in Charlotte, I do not see Francis going this route. The cost to keep Lack versus buying him out is $1 million ($3 million 2017-18 salary – 2 X $1 million to buy him out). Even teams with maximum budgets do not invest that kind of money in AHL-level depth. My bet is that Francis will look to find veteran AHL-level depth ideally with some NHL experience, but only after Lack is bought out and only on a two-way contract that pays a normal AHL salary for time in the AHL.
The Las Vegas wild card: I do think there is one wild card in this scenario. Might it be possible for Francis to pawn Lack off on Las Vegas. I could see a bigger deal that sees the Hurricanes net a roster player, make Lack part of the deal and then pay more in terms of futures to make the deal happen. I am on record as not being a huge fan of adding a pure finisher, but if the price continues to be too high for top targets like Matt Duchene or Alex Galchenyuk, maybe Francis settles for a decent short-term plan B in Neal especially if he can recoup some of Neal’s salary by packaging Lack in the deal.
The Carolina Hurricanes salary cap situation
In broader media, I have seen some mention of the Hurricanes needing to do something specifically to make the salary cap floor. While it is true that the Hurricanes are under the $55.4 million cap floor right now, the team is basically on target to make the floor without doing much other than filling out the roster.
Per CapFriendly, right now the Hurricanes still need to add $4.7 million. But the team has only nine players under contract at the NHL level. If you assume a roster of 13 and an average salary of only $1 million per player, the Hurricanes are only about $700,000 short. Even if the Hurricanes somehow traded Eddie Lack, the shortage would be about $3.7 million. That worst case scenario would force Hurricanes to add a lone $5 million player to go with three other $1 million players to make the cap floor.
So yes the Hurricanes are under the cap floor currently, but reaching it will require only a tiny bit more than just filling out the roster.
Grading Ron Francis
Especially locally and on social media, I see a high volume of people assessing Ron Francis’ efforts and results for building the 2017-18 roster.
With nearly three months until the start of training camp, it is WAY premature. No doubt, one big potential deal weekend passed last weekend and along the way Francis spent some of his trade assets by instead adding to his prospect pool. In terms of measuring Francis’ new progress toward improving the Hurricanes’ 2017-18 roster, the draft weekend was uneventful.
But Francis has made significant progress adding goalie Scott Darling and smaller progress emerging from the expansion draft with Lee Stempniak still in tow and also adding blue line depth in Trevor van Riemsdyk. He also avoided doing any desperation deals that were unwise.
But most significantly, Francis still has a ton of time and a number of options to upgrade his forward ranks. It is not as if the top forward targets moved over the draft weekend. They did not; those players are still available. And a whole new avenue to upgrade the roster is set to open up on Saturday when free agency starts.
So while I do think Francis still has work to do, it is not time to grade his work building the 2017-18 roster.
What say you Hurricane fans?
For what things do your views differ from what you are seeing elsewhere right now?
Do you agree with my assessment of the three situations above or not?