If you were away from Canes hockey for the weekend, you missed an exciting Saturday/Sunday back-to-back with the prospects camp scrimmage on Saturday and the start of free agency with the Hurricanes adding a goalie on Sunday.
And my detailed analysis of the Hurricanes move to sign goalie Petr Mrazek are HERE.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe strolls through the free agent deals from Sunday from a Carolina Hurricanes’ angle.
Checking the competition
The Maple Leafs became significantly better by winning the John Tavares sweepstakes. My perfect storm for extending the Leafs LONG Cup-less run was hoping that Tavares received in the neighborhood of $13 million, had a good but not great first season such that Matthews bettered him and also earned $13 million next summer, and the Leafs found themselves with some Blackhawks type problems with too much money tied up in a couple top players. Tavares $11 million while obviously significant was not as big as I had hoped for my devious plot.
The Islanders were the big losers with Tavares’ departure and also the fact that they have yet to add a goalie.
The Flyers did well in adding James van Riemsdyk.
Other than the Flyers adding van Riemsdyk, it was a generally quiet day for the Metropolitan Division which was good news.
Deals I would steal
The vast majority of the deals on the front end of free agency are more likely to lead to regret than success. As such being quiet at the front end of the free agent process is not necessarily a bad thing. That said, there are usually a handful of deals that make me jealous.
A goalie upgrade
In goal, I am already on record as saying that I would have been willing to commit a bit more for two years to upgrade to veteran Jaroslav Halak over Petr Mrazek. The position is a dice roll, but I would pay a premium for more starter experience and a better recent trajectory.
A veteran scoring center
Of all of the free agent signings, only one really makes me jealous. Paul Stastny signing for a reasonable three years at a not bank-breaking $6.5 million per year would be a great way to add offense, veteran presence and a center. His ability to parachute into the young lineup in Winnipeg and do well instantly in 2017-18 is also appealing. To be clear, I doubt the Hurricanes could have lured Stastny, but it does not hurt to with and dream.
A potential game-changer of a trade for a center
But the deal that really caught my eye was a night-time trade of Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for a small haul. The Sabres acquired two draft picks, two NHL roster players and a medium-range prospect who is also on the fringe of NHL-readiness. The picks were a first-rounder (lottery protected) and a second-rounder. The prospect was power forward Tage Thompson who has yet to break through but did collect a small amount of NHL experience in 2017-18.
Finally, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrick Berglund. At first glance, the Sabres did really well to get five assets for a single player, but I think the quality of the deal can be misleading because of the sheer volume. Patrick Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka are serviceable middle of the roster forwards and nothing more. As such, they could be replaced fairly easily via free agency. Tage Thompson is a medium-grade prospect. The first-round draft pick is significant and the second-round pick is too. Berglund is a 30-year old, 35-45 point third line-ish depth forward. Sobotka is also 30 and with mid-30s point production.
Could the Hurricanes have added a reasonably priced 27 year old top 6 center for say Micheal Ferlund, Victor Rask or Brock McGinn, Roland McKeown and a first and second round draft pick?
If so, I would have done it. Again, the quantity of assets seems daunting, but other than the first-round pick, I am not sure any of them are really tough to replace.
Much is being made about the deal happening on Sunday such that the Blues picked up O’Reilly’s $7.5 million bonus payment on July 1. That is a sizable amount but important to note is that it is just prepayment for his salary. O’Reilly makes $8.5 million total which is a little on the high side for 2018-19, but then his salary (not cap hit…salary) falls to a very reasonable $6.5 million annually for four years.
A busy day for Hurricanes departures
The day was a busy one for 2017-18 Hurricanes players. Derek Ryan (SO happy for him!) garnered a three year deal for $3.125 million per year to reunite with Coach Bill Peters in Calgary.
Joakim Nordstrom joined the Bruins for two years at $1 million per year.
Josh Jooris followed John Tavares and joined the Maple Leafs for one year at $650,000.
And most notably Cam Ward will wear another uniform for the first time in his 13-year NHL career by virtue of his one year, $3 million deal with the Blackhawks.
Is there anything left?
Assuming a trade of Justin Faulk, I still really like Calvin de Haan as a defensively sound left shot defenseman to pair with Dougie Hamilton. There are other veteran left shot defensemen, but I view Dan Hamhuis, Tobias Enstrom and others as third pairing depth at this point in their careers.
At forward, the pickings are also slim. James Neal is still available as is Patrick Maroon. (I do not count Joe Thornton who would be a real long shot to come to Raleigh.)
At this point, I would make a bid for de Haan and probably pass on the forward options unless something fell in my lap for cheap?
What say you Caniac Nation?
1) Are there any Sunday free agent deals that you would steal if you could?
2) Which, if any, of the Hurricane departures would you have preferred to re-sign given their contract terms elsewhere today?
3) What are your thoughts on the high volume/potentially modest quality deal for Ryan O’Reilly? Would you have offered up a Hurricanes equivalent and taken on the July 1 $7.5 million payment to land him?
4) Are there any free agents remaining who would be of interest to you?