No doubt the Canes are in the small group of teams capable of winning the Stanley Cup.
People often talk about the Stanley Cup Playoffs as if anything is possible. That is definitely true in the early rounds, but all that generally does is clear the path for one of the remaining few favorites to eventually knock off the early round underdog winners and hoist the Cup. In the 16 playoffs in the salary cap era, I would say that only the St Louis Blues in 2019 entered the playoffs as a true dark horse, and even so that team could have been considered a Stanley Cup contender before the season started and just played their way down the list with a rough first half of the season. The 2006 Hurricanes and 20017 Ducks would have been considered underdogs before the season started, but strong regular seasons had them among the Cup contenders when the playoffs started. Otherwise, the list of Cup winners is unanimously favorites like Blackhawks, Kings, Penguins, Lightning and other favorites.
Fast forward to today, I would put the the Hurricanes in a group of 6-7 teams who have a chance to hoist the Cup in June. But by no means are the Hurricanes a clear favorite over other top teams. The Lightning have the same core that won the past two seasons. The Panthers showed the ability to play dominant hockey with their dynamic run in January. The Avalanche have seemingly been knocking on the door for a couple years. The Golden Knights will try to pull a Tampa Bay with some injury-related salary cap circumvention.
The question that the Canes brass must answer in the next month is whether they are content to go with the current roster, or if instead they should play the pricey game of trying to make significant upgrades at the trade deadline. The 2006 Cup win benefited from aggressive moves to add veteran forwards Mark Recchi and Doug Weight. That veteran depth proved valuable over the long post-season. The Hurricanes spent significant futures capital giving up a first round and a third round pick to sign away Jesperi Kotkaniemi. But might the team invest more? Should the team spend more?
In late January, I wrote this article suggesting that the Hurricanes had basically a three year window with the current core before needing to re-sign key players and trying to make the salary cap work.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote an article that worked through the tricky salary cap math. With the Hurricanes up against the salary cap ceiling, adding players will be tricky.
In general, my bias is toward going with a regular season roster that is successful. Significant trade deadline additions are both expensive and risky. The prices paid for rentals whose value becomes almost nothing if the the acquirer does not win the championship are usually high. And even good players do not always mesh immediately and/or make enough of a difference to boost a team. Finally, having good, inexpensive players on entry-level or second contracts can be critical to achieving sustained success within rules that require good teams to regularly offload key players to make the salary cap math work.
That said, I actually lean toward making a big move or two leading up the the trade deadline for three reasons. First, as noted above, I do think the Hurricanes are in the select group of teams with a chance to win it all. Second, despite giving up two draft picks to add Kotkaniemi, the Canes are still in a good positive futures-wise with a good prospect pool. Finally and maybe most significantly, despite being among the NHL’s best right now, I think the team actually has a couple areas where significant improvements could be made.
I think adding another bona fide top 4 defenseman would help. Tony DeAngelo has worked okay playing as a #4 next to Jaccob Slavin, but I think better would be to slot him in the third pairing. I think the result would be two positives. First, I think it is possible to be better defensively next to Slavin. Second, I think slotting DeAngelo in the third pairing could enable Brind’Amour to pick spots for DeAngelo to be on the ice a bit more against opponents’ lesser match ups which could maximize his ability to generate offense which is his strength.
I also think there is room for improvement by adding one more proven scorer at wing. In the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes are in the group of top teams below the Panthers who are in a tier by themselves scoring-wise. So by no means are the Hurricanes desperate for more offense. But I still think there is room for one more top 6 scoring wing. That could both boost top-tier scoring and also increase depth.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Is this the year to spend a bit more aggressively to improve before the trade deadline to enter ‘win now’ mode and do everything possible to win a Cup?
2) Do you agree with either or both of the two areas that I identified as potential areas for improvement?
3) If you were General Manager Don Waddell, what would you do?
1. I agree with you, we need to do so,etching big like we did in 2006.
2. Totally disagree that Tony is a #4. He belongs on that top pair and he has do so much. I just hope he is not hurt too bad. Bear is just average and Smittymis hurt. I would agree that adding a defensemen who can be physical would be good.
3. I would go after a forward, either a wing or a center. That is job 1. After that I would pursue a solid and gritty D man. I would also sit Martinook and make sure Stepan is in the lineup as Martinook provides little value, and no offense! Truthfully injuries may dictate more than what we are saying today.
The Canes have 0 cap space (more or less), this makes trade deadline adds difficult, you have to find away to trade away under performing players that either are more highly valued by other teams or trade away extra picks or prospects for teams to take on contracts.
Eathan Bear has overall been under performing but another team might be willing to give him a chance.
Ian Cole hasn’t been worth 3 mill but he’s a steady defenseman with playoff experience which could become extra valuable during post season.
Martinook’s production has been pretty subpar but he’s also dealt with a lot of injuries, not sure we’d find a team willing to take on his contract, plus the cap isn’t that much.
Unless we have a fortunately timed injury to a highly paid player, like Jordan Staal or J/K, we’ll have difficulty making any meaningful additions to the roster.
First of all I disagree about how the Canes should use DeAngelo. He is perfect with Slavin. Slavin has this ability to cover for and at the same time raise the defensive game of his D partner. Perfect for DeAngelo. He’s not great defensively, but he works hard and won’t get beat for lack of effort. Keeping DeAngelo with Slavin allows the Canes third paring to be a more solid pair. Asking Cole, Bear, Smith or someone else to keep an eye on DeAngelo is a recipe for disaster.
I really don’t see a trade making a lot of difference for the Canes. Where the Canes need help, IMO, is in the top 6. They need a second physical presence because Svechnikov is the only one. Probably why Brind’Amour tried Laurentz on the second line. Something to free up Trocheck and Necas. Getting someone like that is really hard. Going to have to give something to get something.
I think the Canes should and will ride into the playoffs with few changes. If it doesn’t work out again this year you might see a real hockey trade this summer looking for a little more grit and size in the top 6.
The team is definitely showing a few cracks right now.
Necas hasn’t scored in, what, 16 or 17 games.
Martinook hasn’t scored since October, I think.
Jarvis has something like 2 or 3 pts in his last 15 or 20 games (to be expected for a rookie but concerning for a top 9 player)
Bear has not been great.
Skjei is definitely fighting it a bit.
The captain to the rescue,
awesome to see Jordan Staal pick up the pace when trouble strikes.
The second line is the problem right now and I don’t know if a shake up, trade or callup can fix it, or if it’s just one of those things that happen in an 82-game season.
With almost a playoff guarantee already it would be hypocritical to complain, I certainly do not think the sky is falling, but I think the team has been less-than-convincing lately, and I think at least one trade could be the boost that’s needed to keep the party going.
It looks like the Canes have some cap space after all, and some injuries, but are not willing to part with a first.
Someone mentioned the Flyers’ Justin Braun as an ideal trade acquisition for the Canes, especially with the DeAngelo injury. I’m onboard with that.
Nick Paul might be a good fit at forward, providing a physical top 6-ish winger with some scoring. Not the gem of the trade market but the type of player needed in the post season.
What do y’all think of the tradeline options caniacs?
The Canes have 1.8 mill in cap space.
A top 4 capable D or a physical or scoring RW are probably the most pressing needs.
The team probably does not want to trade away picks but may trade away some prospects, maybe even players.
There have been some forwards having a tough time lately, like Necas and, to some degree, Trocheck.
Vinnie is also on an expiring contract.
Could we land Giroux by trading Vinnie plus a prospect.
If it were possible, would it be smart, not sure.
There are a couple more reasonable players that the team might go for, I can try to put together a list of 4 or 5.
I think that last year the team should’ve acted more decisively at the trade deadline, the team started to fade after the deadline and ultimately faded in the playoffs.
This ear’s crew is pretty amazing but has been trending down lately, the grind of a long season. What if they get a bit of a refresh with one or two new faces?
Don’t get me wrong, this roster might go all the way, but I still tink they’re a iece or two short (the piece could be experience, Tampa made the playoffs 4 or 5 times in a row before grabbing the cup).
Domi…AN INTERESTING PICK! How do you guys think this will help…
over time? I’m not sure what he is about?
…I’ve been using an old dysfunctional computer…so haven’t been able to make any comments, or read everything!
OH well * * * * HAPPENS!
The deadline moves where what I would call, Meh+
the J/K signing (8 years, 4.85 mill) is a gamble on a player that has so far largely disappointed.
But he is still 21 so maybe he can totally reinvent himself if given a year or 2. If he does, then the Canes have a decent 2nd line center of the future locked up for under 5 mill, it’d be a brilliant deal, I’m just not sure this particular guy is good enough for that.
If he is a 4th line player at best it’s a gross overpayment.
The Canes practically stole Max Domi (giving away next to nothing and letting the Panthers and Blue Jackets eat 3/4 of his cap hit), The move itself is pretty brilliant, but I don’t know if the player is worth it.
Domi has never quite put it all together and never really stuck, but maybe this could be his big gig.
Interesting take on KK. I don’t find him dissappointing. He is almost at his personal best in points. I guess our expectations differed on what he would bring the first year. I see improvement and a lot of really good moments. I never used his one year salary as a guide for what he would do this year. I also was surprised at the 8 years when I first heard it, but IF it works out, it could be another Slavin/Pesce deal.
Agree on Domi. I can’t remember if I liked him or not. If I didn’t, it’s probably because he played hard against us… and that would be a good element to have…. Especially when you look at the cost (nothing)!
On a side note, I do miss reading this site every day! It was imo, one of the most insightful of all the sites. I hope Matt is ok.
Yeah, it’s hard to remember the guy is 21 .. the plan is definitely for the 8-year deal to be a Slaven/Pesce type situation.
As good as Aho and Svech are, and they are good, I think locking up these two for essentially what it costs to lock up one of the big name guys is what has taken the Canes to the next level.
Maybe our management want to avoid repeating the mistake of not signing Aho early, he could’ve probably have been signed for 6.5 if he had been signed the year before his big breakout.
But that’s the management gamble, and I don’t pretend to have the insights to call the shots, but I can entertain myself and hopefully others, by having opinions.
Well, most of us were pretty meh about DeAngelo, at least I was. But he’s turned out to be a fantastic add. Hopefully Domi will turn out to be that sort of player.
Yeap, we’re in (4th year in a row) with at least the second most points in Canes history and, barring a complete collapse, we are one of the top 2 teams in the metro .. and we still got 10 games to go. I don’t think anyone can legitimately complain about how this season went regardless.
Congrats to our players, coaches, managers and the entire Hurricanes staff who made some massive magic happen this season.
But, and it’s a firm but and I cannot lie, the team has lost its magic lately, which, if we like to be worried about stuff, is very much a cause for concern.
It’s not as bad as the Pens, who are 0 Ws in the month of April and something like 2 wins in the last 10, but it’s not good and we’ve lost our commanding division lead to the Rangers (now we’re tied at the top, with 2 head to head games coming up).
Domi has not really wokred out for us, plays hard but can’t find the back of the net. We’re running into as many “hot goalies” as during the lean years. Our goalies are good but not quite as bulletproof as they have been, and defensive mistakes are beginning to rear their not-so-pretty noggens.
But it’s been a grind, the team may find it hard to keep the focus and desperation and most of our opponents are playing with now, either stress free and looking to impress for next season or clawing for every point.
Still, the Canes have got to find their mojo again before playoffs arrive and I hope they can win at least half their remaining games, preferably taking at least 3 of 4 points against the Rangers.
If we can go into the playoffs with 110 points, refocused players, and a rediscovered mojo, there’s no telling where this wagonwheel stops rollin’.
I hope Matt (and the rest of y’all) are ok. I assume the Canes and Coffee site may be on a hiatus, maybe extended.
I will certainly miss the great community and discussions on here and Matt’s tireless and thoughtful writings about all things Hurricanes, but I totally understand how we’ve all had to face a lot of challenges in the last year or two.
I still hope that maybe we can get together and bring this site back to life for the 2022 playoffs at least, then we can see what the future holds.
The Canes are hitting their roughest patch of the season, either unable to score or unable to defend. Domi is not working out so well (at least not yet) and the team is beginning to play hesitant, slower and with a lot more “whoopsies” (maybe tiredness is setting in).
Looking at the standings I almost hope that the Rangers will surpass us and that we get the Pens in the first round. They seem to be headed in the same direction (i.e. downwards) + they deal with goaltending issues and Malkin being suspended for part of the first round (as I understand it).
But we got our own injury concerns (captain Staal and crease captain Anderson) after yesterday’s smackdown in Colorado.
But there is good news from the pipeline, the Wolves have already secured the division title and our new goalie prospect is something special (I believe he has played 15 games and lost a single one).
The duo of Poturolski and Moesen are tearing up the AHL scoring, especially when playing together.
I wonder if the Canes could bring the 3 of them up, give Anderson a chance to recoup, playing this duo with either their old teammate Lawrence or maybe get Domi going, while making sure the captain gets a chance to recover and maybe rest another player or two from the lineup for a few days. Then the team could bring the full roster back together in a week for a dress rehearsal.
If one of them impresses enough, let them stay around. We know that brand new goalies can go on magical runs.
I still think the team must find a way to beat Arizona and the Devils, then it’s a Rangers showdown at MSG or the Metro division title (with the consolation prize being the easier match up).
The Canes must find their mojo before the playoffs. Last year they faded badly towards the end and never really rediscovered their mojo in the playoffs (even if they made it through the first round). Hopefully this year we’ll go far.