If you were away from hockey over the holiday weekend, my series that checked in on all 66 players either under contract or controlled via draft rights by the Hurricanes concluded with part 6 on Monday. You can find that article HERE and with it links to the five related articles.
For anyone poking around looking for Canes and Coffee coffee cups, please have just a little bit more patience. I had company in town for the holiday weekend and am scrambling to catch up on a few things on Monday night.
The most likely bet is that the Hurricanes are set personnel-wise to enter training camp.
But two things suggest that one should not consider that a 100 percent probability.
–First, there are still a couple unresolved situations from the front part of the offseason.
–Second, Canes GM Ron Francis has a knack for pulling off trades when no one expects them.
The hockey world entered the offseason with near certainty that one or both of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog would be dealt out of Colorado before the start of the 2017-18 season. Yet here we sit, coming out of Labor Day weekend, with both players still slated to wear Avs jerseys when training camp starts. Colorado General Manager Joe Sakic has painted himself into a nasty situation; it will be interesting to see if/how he is able to get out of it. I am on record way back when as saying that I think Francis could be a top bidder in a bidding war that does NOT include a top 4 defenseman. I still think Duchene is interesting if Sakic faces reality, cuts his losses to move on and takes a package of futures for Duchene. Even more interesting would be if Sakic held tight to wanting a top 4 defenseman and decided to up his ante to Nathan MacKinnon. The Avs’ situation could seemingly go a dozen different directions at this point, so a resolution involving the Hurricanes is low probability but not out of the question. I wrote about the Nathan MacKinnon dream in some detail all the way back on June 6.
The other slightly less tenuous situation is Alex Galchenyuk remaining in Montreal. He has been in and out of the doghouse regularly over the past couple of years and was expected to be some combination of salary cap casualty, trade bait or just cast off this summer, but somehow still remains in Montreal. With the Habs cutting salary elsewhere, it now seems feasible that Galchenyuk could stay, but the longer term trend over the past couple years has him slowly marching toward eventually playing somewhere else. Alex Galchenyuk was near the top of the list when I considered options to add a top 6 scoring forward in my article on June 16.
Either player would fit the playmaking center need for the Hurricanes and just maybe at a reasonable cost.
Ron Francis’ track record
Francis has a knack for pulling off deals that seem to fall out of thin air. The offices at 1400 Edwards Mill Road are air tight, so very little that he has done has found the rumor mills in advance of the deals. And Francis has also shown a propensity for doing deals timing-wise that surprise. The case and point for doing a surprise training camp eve deal is the Kris Versteeg/Joakim Nordstrom trade that happened on September 11, 2015.
I think Francis is sincere when he says that he has a team with which he is ready to enter training camp and even the regular season. But at the same time, I have to imagine that he is open to making one more move to try to put the team up and over the top and into the playoffs if a reasonable deal becomes possible.
The Las Vegas wild card
In addition to the situations outlined above, the Las Vegas wild card introduced this summer has not fully run its course.
Despite selling off a few defensemen over the summer, CapFriendly still shows 11 defensemen on the Las Vegas roster. That number is inflated by a couple with Deryk Engelland not certain to be part of the mix and a couple players who could go to the AHL. But there are still a few extras which makes the small collection of veterans in Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner likely available for a song to help reduce the roster and cut salary.
I recognize that I am in the minority with this opinion, but I am on record as thinking that the Hurricanes might consider one more depth addition on the blue line. Is there a deal that nets an experienced depth defenseman from Las Vegas? The cost would be virtually nothing, so it is more a matter of whether Francis would be willing to take another NHL contract and more significantly whether he thinks that the options available are an upgrade over the younger players that he has at his disposal. Shortly after the expansion draft on June 21, I perused Las Vegas’ roster and identified a couple potential defensemen who could be trade targets including Trevor van Riemsdyk whom the Hurricanes acquired but also Jason Garrison who is still in the desert.
What say you Hurricanes fans?
1) Are you just ready to end the offseason speculation and start work in earnest in training camp to build a playoff team for the 2017-18 season?
2) Given Francis’ history of surprise deals, what do you think the probability is that he does one more deal before the regular season starts?
3) Is there a deal you would do or a need you would consider addressing if the price was reasonable if you were in Ron Francis’ shoes?