There are basically 2 types of deals that we could see at the NHL trade deadline. The first is the predictable set of deals trading off impending unrestricted free agents to collect whatever assets can be had for the future. That is the focus of this part 1 of my NHL trade deadline preview with 1 wild card thrown in to keep it interesting.

I touched on this and a few other trade deadline items in yesterday’s ‘trade deadline warm up’ in Wednesday’s Daily Cup of Joe, but here is a more thorough breakdown of the Hurricanes players likely to be moved at the trade deadline.


Ron Hainsey

Why he is available: He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Role on a contending team: Depth defenseman likely to slot in a bottom pair and also capable of playing on the penalty kill.

Expected value: Francis would do well to get a 3rd round pick. I think a 4th is probably fair value. Comparable deals from the 2016 NHL trade deadline include John-Michael Liles netting a 3rd and a 5th (but I think he was playing better than Hainsey), Kris Russell netting a 2nd plus some lesser prospects (again I think Russell was viewed as more a true top 4), Jakub Kindl netting only a 6th (think that is the low floor for low-end depth) and Mike Weber garnering a 3rd (which I think is a really positive sign).

Possible destinations: Hainsey fits on any team that needs a third pairing defenseman and is a bit more valuable to a team looking for help on its penalty kill. With Pittsburgh losing another defenseman (Trevor Daley) to injury yesterday, the Pens are really depleted on the blue line. It would not shock me to see Hainsey dealt to the Pens before the deadline rush to be a stopgap in the top 4 and then fall back into the third pairing once they get healthier.

Probability of being traded: 90%. Probably the highest of any Canes player. He should have value to a team that needs depth on defense. In addition, as a 36-year old who has not played in a single playoff game (see my ‘5 wishes’ post), I think Francis will do the right thing and deal Hainsey to a sure playoff team to give him his chance.


UPDATE AFTER RON HAINSEY TRADE: Francis is wasting no time. I better hurry up and finish/post part 2 before that happens too. 🙂

Initial thoughts on Ron Hainsey trade is already posted HERE.


Jay McClement

Why he is available: He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Role on a contending team: Fourth line center and penalty killer or possibly #13 forward type depth.

Expected value: I think Francis would do well to get a 4th round pick for McClement or even a 5th. When I sort through the 2016 NHL trade deadline deal tracker, virtually all of the forwards who were moved were top 9-capable with at least some potential to provide depth scoring. McClement’s role on a good team would be much narrower as a fourth-liner and penalty kill help. I think it really takes a team willing to spend a roster spot on a forward penalty killing upgrade for McClement to move at all. The nearest comparable I see is Shawn Matthias who was traded for a 3rd and a lesser prospect, but I think Matthias would rate higher than McClement.

Possible destinations: Name teams that need to upgrade their penalty killing, and I think you have a reasonable destination list. I just do not see McClement as enough of an upgrade as a fourth line center to be moved otherwise. Teams currently near or above the playoff cut line but in the bottom half of the league in terms of penalty killing proficiency include Philadelphia, Calgary, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Chicago and New York (Islanders). The next step would be to dig through lineups to determine which of those teams need depth at the center position.

Probability of being traded: 50%. I think it comes down to finding a team or 2 who wants penalty killing help and/or a veteran for the fourth line, negotiating as best you can from a fairly weak position and ultimately Francis taking whatever he can get to open the roster spot and save a few $ for the last quarter of the season. But I would not consider it a sure thing that their is a suitor for McClement.


Viktor Stalberg

Why he is available: He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Role on a contending team: He is a higher-end fourth line wing with the ability to play on the penalty kill and also step up to fill in on a higher line. He also brings deep playoff experience from his time with the Blackhawks.

Expected value: Whereas I think McClement is a stretch to earn a fourth round pick, I think that is baseline fair value for Stalberg. He is only a fourth-liner which puts a ceiling on his return, but he should be 1 of the best in this category. His size, skating ability, physical play and experience make him the type of depth player that teams want and might pay a bit extra for. I think Stalberg prices out at a 4th round pick, but I also think that he is a player that if Francis negotiates well could garner a 3rd instead.

Possible destinations: He fits similarly to McClement as a fourth-liner who could boost a lagging penalty kill, but I think equally significantly, he would be a great experienced playoff veteran for a team that is light on deep playoff experience like Toronto, Ottawa, Columbus or Edmonton. And at the simplest level, he is just a solid fourth-liner with size, skating ability and defensive acumen for any team that lacks depth at the wing position. And that is why I think Stalberg is the player where Francis might be able to do better than role/fair value would indicate if the demand is there and he negotiates well.

Probability of being traded: 60%. Unlike McClement, the question is not whether there is a potential deal to be had. Rather, the question is whether Francis maybe pulls him back and tries to negotiate a contract extension instead. Francis general mode of operation in past deadlines has been to sell everything possible, but Stalberg is the 1 player in this year’s batch of impending unrestricted free agents who might make sense to just keep.


Ryan Murphy

Why he is available: Now quickly approaching 24 years old (March 31) and with multiple short try outs at the NHL level behind him, Murphy has not carved out a place with the Hurricanes. And with the next wave of blue line prospects ready to pass him on the depth chart, the best for him and for the team is to give Murphy a fresh start with another team.

Role on a contending team: This trade is not about the playoffs. It is about moving forward for Murphy and the Hurricanes. As such, the trade options are not about playoff team needs but rather interest from other teams based on scouting and some willingness to offer a comparable return.

Expected value: The most likely scenario is a ‘change of scenery’ deal that sees Murphy traded for a comparable pedigree and similarly struggling prospects in the same age range such that both players and teams get a fresh start. If such a deal is not available, I would expect Murphy to garner only something like a 4th to 6th round pick at this point with his luster worn off by his inability to earn a regular NHL role.

Possible destinations: It could literally be any team who has a similarly struggling prospect at the same point in his career or a scout that still really believes Murphy has a higher level.

Probability of being traded: Specifically for the trade deadline=> 50%. I think the probability that Murphy is dealt before the start of the 2017-18 season is more like 80%, but because he is under contract through 2017-18, this deal could easily wait until the summer.


Matt Tennyson

Why he is available: He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Role on a contending team: On a good team, he is no more than a #7 defenseman who brings some depth in case of injuries.

Expected value: As deep depth, the return would be minimal. If 1 of the other players is traded to a team who could also use Tennyson, perhaps Francis can use him to get a draft pick upgrade, but by himself I think Tennyson collects only a 6th or 7th round pick and only if someone is shopping for deep depth in the form of a right shot defenseman because they do not like what they already have available at the AHL level.

Possible destinations: Naming specific teams would be a matter of understanding what various teams have available at the AHL level past the 7-8 defensemen on their NHL roster.

Probability of being traded: 20%. Again, he is deep depth. Most teams have that in the form of similar players who are in the AHL but have some NHL experience and some also have good young AHL players who would they promote in a pinch before reaching outside the organization.


Derek Ryan

Why he is available: He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Role on a contending team: Ryan could bring deep depth with the ability to contribute offensively.

Expected value: Similar to Tennyson, as a fringe AHL/NHL player, he would garner very little and only if a team’s scouting staff really liked him relative to other options already in its organization. Like Tennyson, IF a deal happened it would be a late-round draft pick or maybe another older fringe AHL/NHL player that the Hurricanes liked and wanted to evaluate at the NHL level in March.

Possible destinations: Find me a team with very little forward depth and just maybe Ryan fits.

Probability of being traded: 10%. I included Ryan primarily for thoroughness and would be surprised to see him traded.



Lee Stempniak

Why he MIGHT be available: From the ‘which of these is not like the others’ category and as the wild card that I noted in the introduction, we have Lee Stempniak. An important starting point is noting that Lee Stempniak is NOT an unrestricted free agent this summer. Rather, he is signed for a reasonable $2.5 million cost for the 2017-18. And with the Hurricanes still struggling to build out their top 9 forward depth, it is reasonable that he be stays. In fact, I will be surprised if I find another Hurricanes trade deadline article that even mentions him.

But here is why I think he could be the wild card. First is that he has not excelled with the Hurricanes. By no means has Stempniak been bad, but he has yet to really find chemistry or a permanent line/role. Instead, he has bounced around the lineup a bit and is on pace for a modest 39 points. That is good enough to stay in the Hurricanes top 9 right now, but at the trade deadline, he could be an interesting combination of replaceable for the Hurricanes and valuable to a playoff team. Most teams are focused on adding help for the 2016-17 season only, but Stempniak’s reasonable $2.5 million salary cap hit for 2017-18 could even be a positive for a team that knows it will need forward help for 2017-18 and will be up against the salary cap. IF Francis could get a reasonable return in terms of futures for Stempniak, might he be willing to take his chances that with the same $2.5 million that he can replace Stempniak with an equally capable veteran top 9 forward this summer? I think there is a chance that Francis goes this route.

Role on a contending team: Stempniak is a legitimate top 9 forward with decent scoring ability and all-around play. He could fit on any team needing a top 9 right wing in the form of a veteran and a bit more scoring to boot. And his $2.5 million salary works for teams that are cap-constrained.

Expected value: As hinted at above, this is not a situation where Francis necessarily needs to or even wants to make a deal, so it would take a good return to pry Stempniak loose. Comparable veteran top 9 scoring-capable forwards from the 2016 NHL trade deadline include Daniel Winnik who with a 5th round pick in a complicated deal yielded a modest prospect and a 2nd, Kris Versteeg who yielded a recent 2nd-rounder in Valentin Zykov, Teddy Purcell who earned a 3rd and Jiri Hudler who collected a 2nd and a 4th. For a team that likes Stempniak and also the extra year on his contract, it does not seem unreasonable to think that a second round pick is within the realm of possibility.

Possible destinations: The 2017-18 part of Stempniak’s contract might be a no go for a few teams, but otherwise if you show me a team that wants a proven top 9 right wing who can score, I will show you a possible destination. The list of teams that could use veteran scoring help should number 8-10 teams which could create an interesting market for Francis to at least explore.

Probability of being traded: 20%. Again, Stempniak is not an impending unrestricted free agent. As such, the most likely answer is that he just stays and is again part of the 2017-18 Hurricanes’ roster.


We are officially inside of 1 week of the March 1 NHL trade deadline. If I had to take a wild guess at the first Hurricanes’ player to be dealt, I would say Ron Hainsey to Pittsburgh before Sunday’s game.


Go Canes!

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