The 2020 NHL trade deadline is suddenly only 20 days away. Over the coming weeks, the volume of rumors and also actual deals will increase.
I actually had the Hurricanes shopping for top 4-ish or better help on the blue line even before Dougie Hamilton’s injury. Jake Gardiner has been somewhat better of late, but the extended look at what his downside could be introduced significant risk into inking him into the top 4 for key games getting into and winning in the playoffs. Joel Edmundson filled that role early in the season but is maybe overslotted in that role as a regular.
Combine that need with the propensity for rental deals at the trade deadline, and one might jump to the conclusion that the Hurricanes trade deadline target is a defenseman whose contract expires at the end of the season.
But I actually think the Hurricanes might actually prefer to add a player or two with term through the 2020-21 season.
Available salary cap budget for 2020-21
With Patrick Marleau’s contract and the small amount of retained salary for Justin Faulk coming off the books at the end of the year, the Hurricanes will free up about $7 million of cap space importantly from players who do not need to be replaced. Combine that with the fact that the Hurricanes do not have any big ticket re-signings slated for this summer, and the team could have a chunk of cap space available to spend this summer.
…but with the need for contracts to expire at the end of 2020-21
But at the same time, the Hurricanes would prefer not to take on substantial contracts past the 2020-21 season. That is because the following summer sees the Canes needing to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton and then after the 2021-22 season needing to re-sign Martin Necas. The result is that the Hurricanes have a short window through the 2020-21 season when they can take on salary, but that window closes at that time.
…and key slots to fill for the 2020-21 season
In addition, the Hurricanes have a few key slots to fill for the 2020-21 season. On the blue line, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Joel Edmundson both have contracts that expire at the end of this season. As such, the Hurricanes will need to add a defenseman. And when one considers the risk with Gardiner and the Hurricanes propensity to budget for five defensemen capable of playing in the top 4, it is reasonable to think that the Hurricanes would at least consider adding a top 4-capable player.
I actually think the Hurricanes would be happy to have either Joel Edmundson or Trevor van Riemsdyk back, but I think the chances of that happening are slim for contract reasons. For the reasons mentioned above, I believe the Hurricanes will have a preference to commit as few salary cap dollars as possible beyond 2020-21. So though the Hurricanes might want to retain one of both of Edmundson or van Riemsdyk, if the players prefer a longer-term deal as one might expect, the Canes are likely to pass.
At forward, Justin Williams added scoring-capable depth to a lineup that already had decent depth, so one might think that the Hurricanes are set at forward. While I do agree that there is not a pressing need, contemplating the 2020-21 season again uncovers a possible need. Third line center Erik Haula is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. With his knee injury last year and again the team’s possible preference to commit dollars to 2020-21 but not beyond, the Hurricanes could be in the market for a third line center for the 2020-21 season.
…and it could be hard to add medium-end players this summer bidding only with one-year deals
Certainly, it is possible for the Hurricanes to fill these gaps next summer, but a preference to add players only on one-year deals on that time could greatly limit the quantity and quality of possible options. Good players tend to want and receive multi-year deals as free agents. In addition, those deals have historically been pricey. One-year deals are often for players coming off down seasons and with significant risk.
So the upshot is that I think the Hurricanes might not just be willing to take on a player with a contract through the 2020-21 season but actually prefer it.
Options for killing two birds with one stone
I will at some point write about the rental options too and will also consider these players in more detail, but one can build a pretty sizable list of players could be theoretically be available who meet the requirements of helping the 2019-20 playoff push, slotting into a need for the 2020-21 lineup and having a contract that ends after the 2020-21 season to free up money to re-sign Svechnikov and Hamilton?
Patrik Nemeth — Detroit
Alec Martinez — Los Angeles
Jonas Brodin — Minnesota
At center (with some wings)
Marcus Johansson — Buffalo
Eric Staal — Minnesota
Tomas Tatar — Montreal (wing)
Ryan Getzlaf — Anaheim …could Anaheim be ready to enter full rebuild?
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you think of the prospect of the Canes actually targeting players with another year term at the trade deadline to simultaneously improve for 2019-20 but also begin working on the 2020-21 roster?
2) Which of the players on the list are most intriguing?
3) Who has more 2-year options to add to this list?
1) I am always ambivalent about adding players from the outside. Adding talented, proven NHL players can add lots of value. However, it slows the development of players within the organization.
The best example of the latter is happening this year on the Canes. Foegele might end the year with as many points as Necas. Foegele isn’t close to Necas in offensive talent. However, Foegele has an extra year of NHL experience. If the Canes acquire Johansson for two years, that will be a year of experience that Gauthier/Kuokkanen/Luostarinen/Geekie doesn’t receive. The same is true for Bean if Brodin is acquired—though Brodin is the player you listed who most improves the Canes.
The real question being asked is are the Canes in the position to make the “last addition” for a Stanley Cup run or does their prime window start in 21-22. If the latter, then the intelligent strategy for next season is to get Bean, Ned, and one of the forward prospects into the NHL so they can reach the next level, think Foegele. Balancing having the best roster on the ice in the current season with having the best possible roster on the ice in a year or two is always difficult.
2) As mentioned, I think Brodin has the most value. Though Eric Staal would add some scoring and have an obvious intangible impact—I am pretty sure it would be positive, but not certain.
3) None—though I will reiterate that any prospect is “two-year” in the sense that they will seem significant improvement after 50 games or so.
History suggests that when you list a bunch of AHL guys that are going to be solid NHL players you are wrong. Most of them never make it. Of the four you list three have major known issues. Gauthier-Hockey IQ, Kuokkanen-work ethic, Geekie-skating. Bean also is a major question mark as far as making it as a NHL regular.
Bringing in a known NHL player on defense is a no brainer in my mind. The problem is the price tag. Should the Canes give up a first round pick? I would be fine giving up either Bean or Priskie for a proven NHL defenseman with term left on his contract. They would probably have to throw in a draft pick or two, but not a first rounder, IMO. In that case the Canes are giving up a maybe for a definite.
ct – I am starting to lean more and more towards lts’s way of thinking. We may have high-end AHL talent, but that is what it is – high-end AHL talent. Witness players like Brown, Poturalski, Zykov, Saarela, etc. the past few years. It implies we are really not grooming our AHL players to be NHL players (with notable exceptions like Necas last year and possibly Ned) but to be on standby as injury replacements. That is an entirely different perspective. Foegele is an exception but that is because he seized the moment at training camp. That is the only way these guys will be promoted – seizing an opportunity offered by injury or during camp, but they are not being “brought along”, if you will.
If they are not being “brought along,” that could be a mistake.
That concern is not consistent among good teams. Tampa has one (yes that is ONE) forward they didn’t draft or sign. The outlier was a little-ventured, nothing lost signing of Maroon.
The two teams threatening the Canes’ playoff chances are Philly and Columbus. Both those teams have significant contributions form players who were not in the NHL last season.
On the other side, Buffalo has one player who was “developed” in the past two seasons—a #1 pick.
Nashville is down this year despite adding proven NHL talent in Turris, Granlund, and Duchene the past two seasons.
I don’t think the argument is that there is a specific player in Charlotte who answers all the questions. However, there are quite a few who could contribute. The evidence suggests that relying on organizational contributions is at least as successful as shopping for value adds from other teams.
Foegele, Wallmark, Necas all first or second year players. Fleury, love him or hate him, has been developed recently. It’s not that the Canes aren’t developing players, it’s that most players in the AHL are never going to be NHL players with all the development in the world. Most get a couple year window and are then replaced by younger talent. If a player isn’t a top draft pick he has to prove it. Most never do.
First, here is a report linking Matt Dumba to the Hurricanes and discussing Canes 19 year old Finnish prospect, Patrik Puistola, and his progress in the Finnish League. https://www.prohockeyrumors.com/2020/02/snapshots-kapanen-dumba-puistola.html
Second, a return of Eric Staal has always intrigued me. Before he went on a deadline deal with the Rangers, I was both critical of his play here and agreed with his complaint about the quality of the linemates he was consistently given while here. He would certainly center a very good line here were he to return. Nonetheless his return just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Third, the specter of the Seattle expansion draft to be held summer after next draws ever closer. That draft will impact or roster significantly more than the Vegas draft. All moves will need to factor in their impact in June of 2021.
I’m not sure the Wild will be so eager to deal with Waddell after last year’s trade. Then again, Nino’s contract is looking mighty heavy right now. Can you say “exposed to expansion draft?”
1. Your cap analysis as to why Waddell would want to add a player with 1-year term is spot on. And it makes sense from a contract certainty standpoint for next year (we know we have the player as opposed to looking for that player in the summer). I think we end up striving for both a D and a F/C.
The question is why would a team trade a player with that term unless it is in full-blown rebuild mode and/or we offer a real sweet return.
Thad said, Waddell will make the move(s) that make the team better so I am sure he will be open to a lot of different permutations.
2. I think you can take #12 off the list. There is no way I see him returning, or even wanting to return. He is a special player in MN and he and his family are well-settled there.
While Getzlaf has had a great career he is now on the downslope and that is a big contract to pay for a player with diminishing skills.
I am much more comfortable with a player like Johansson who looks like he could slot up and down the bottom 9.
None of the players you list would be worth pursuing IMO. We have talent in the AHL that has shown they are excellent AHL players. The only way to further develop them is to get them to the NHL to get some NHL experience. Sure, not all of them will make it, but some will. The addition of these players helps you not only on the ice, but also with keeping within the salary cap so you can pay your core players.
What good is a rental player? We don’t have any dynasty core group right now. What good is it to spend assets to acquire mediocre talent (3rd and 4th liners) that other teams want to peddle? We already have a sufficient number of this type of player in the organization.
Just my views. We need to develop a cup capable core before going out and giving up assets to add complimentary talent (3rd and 4th liners or 3rd pairing defensemen). IMO we don’t currently have a cup contending core. We were close last year, but that core included Williams with his scoring and leadership, who is on his way to retirement, DeHaan with his shutdown defensive 1st pairing ability who was peddled off and injury prone, Ferland with his needed grit and scoring who left and was injury prone. None of these losses of core type players has been adequately replaced this year as far as I am concerned.