Part 6 of my 2018 NHL Trade Deadline series went big game hunting. While admittedly unlikely, I think those deals actually make sense and are the kind that General Manager Ron Francis should at least be exploring today.
This article steps back from the drama and looks at a couple more likely, small potatoes, type scenarios.
First, to be clear, I am not in the camp that wants to vilify Derek Ryan for the latest Canes woes. On Twitter a few days ago, I said:
I think Derek Ryan has officially become the latest underdog story turned scapegoat in the series…LaRose=>Dwyer=>Gerbe=>Ryan. #Redvolution
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 25, 2018
My starting point for the previous offseason was adding a starting goalie and a playmaking/offensive catalyst type first or second line center. So slotting Derek Ryan with a cadre of defense-leaning centers not surprisingly has proven to be light on offense to the tune of the Canes now falling to 26th in the NHL in scoring. But that is a problem with the lineup and utilization and should not be hung on Derek Ryan.
That said, I think he is the player most likely to be traded today. He brings decent depth scoring and a serviceable second unit power play forward to a team that is strong at the top of the lineup and just needs depth.
The place that makes the most sense is probably Winnipeg though there are other places that could make sense too. With Pittsburgh winning the Derek Brassard sweepstakes and Tomas Plekanec off the table and already in Toronto, Ryan should be moving up the list and represent a decent rental addition at a modest cost.
I think Francis would do well to net a second-round draft pick in this deal or maybe a set of two lower picks, but even a third-round pick or mid-tier prospect would be a decent return.
From the Hurricanes’ side, I am not advocating a sell off that jeopardizes what is left of the 2017-18 season playoff hopes. I just think that the Hurricanes have the ability to back fill this slot with minimal if any impact. Ryan has been sputtering a bit of late anyway and has never really clicked with Skinner nor has he found another higher than a depth scoring type pace.
The slot gets filled in any number of ways. First, with Lindholm settling in at center, the Hurricanes will be three deep at the position once Jordan Staal returns. I like the idea of giving Lucas Wallmark a true run at the fourth line center position in search of more offense quite possibly without giving up a ton defensively. If that does not work, the team still has Marcus Kruger and Josh Jooris available as more checking line type options.
Stempniak is the other veteran depth forward who is scheduled to become a free agent this summer (and very likely not be re-signed). If the team can move Ryan for a good return, I am not as inclined to also trade Stempniak though a similar case could be made to move him to open up more room for another AHL call up like Valentin Zykov, Aleksi Saarela or Warren Foegele.
I think the Stempniak is similar to Ryan except that there are more big names still available at the wing position which might make it harder to garner any attention until the other dominoes fall. Similar to Ryan, I think Francis would do well to get a second round draft pick or mid-tier prospect for Stempniak, but a fair return would be less than that. With Lindholm playing center recently, I am not as keen on trading Stempniak as Ryan in terms of just adjusting the lineup and maybe not even losing anything.
Many will grumble that this is not enough, and though I mostly agree, we have trudged too far down the road of patience to hastily chuck some of its benefits at a deal that is horrible and just sets the team back. The value of collecting another draft pick or two now is the additional ammunition it provides for the summer (and yes I realize that sounds a lot like last year).
What say you Canes fans?
1) Are you ready to part ways with veteran impending free agents like Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak for modest returns in the form of futures?
2) If so, is it more about making room for the AHL players, collecting value, or both?