There has been a lot of talk recently about the Canes offensive struggles and trying to figure out the right line combinations. We also have seen talk about the possible trade of one of our defensemen to make room for Faulk, both now and in the future. I believe the general consensus is the Canes need help in the top 6; either a RW for Staal or a C for Skinner. So, I thought I would come up with a list of possible/potential targets that JR might look toward to fill these needs. This obviously isn’t everyone and there are also players on this list that might not be available. I’m just throwing these names out there, seeing which one might be the most popular or unpopular choice.
Erik Cole – Familiar name & face, Cole & Montreal have stumbled a little out of the gate. He obviously has chemistry with both Staal & Skinner and would fill out the top 6. When healthy, Cole is a 20+ goal, 50 point player; but health is always a concern for him & his team. Would JR pull the trigger on bringing him back with that contract; I think not. The only way that possibly happens is if the Habs take back one of the Canes ugly contracts. Paging Mr. Kaberle, Tomas Kaberle, your plane is leaving from Gate 9 to Montreal. Chances: Very, very slim; but don’t rule out anything with Mr. Recycle (JR).
Ray Whitney – Another familiar name, Ray has started the season well in Phoenix. He has 10 points through 9 games and the Yotes are about middle of the pack in the West. While the Canes are probably not looking for a LW; he is a playmaker and has history with Staal. If Phoenix is contending for the playoffs, I can’t see them giving up one of their better players; but if their fortunes turn, he will be available. I don’t see Phoenix wanting one of our defensemen for Ray, so it would probably have to be a forward prospect. It would be interesting if Boychuk, the guy that was drafted to replace Ray, was traded to Phoenix for the return of Ray. Just saying, that would be quite ironic. Chances: I could actually see this happening if the Coyotes are struggling and the Canes are in playoff contention.
Kyle Turris – A lot of people seem to be high on this kid, I am not really. He has potential and might be a wonderful acquisition, but it concerns me that he would rather sit out than play. If he doesn’t want to play in Phoenix, why would he want to play in Raleigh? I think if the Canes fall behind a little, they might turn toward more kids and if so, then I believe Turris becomes a possibility. I think we could bring him in as a 3rd line center, move Sutter up to the 2nd line, and see how thing develop. If Turris can put it together, then move him up to top 6 center or wing. Chances: I would say unlikely due to the fact that I believe other teams will offer more for him than the Canes would be willing to offer.
Brad Boyes – Boyes is an option that really intrigues me. If given ample time in the top 6 and on the PP, Boyes is a 40+ point player rather easily. He’s even scored 30+ twice in his 6 year NHL career. But he has bounced around a lot and is not getting a huge amount of ice time in Buffalo. He’s not the greatest defensive player, but I just can’t understand why he keeps falling out of favor with organizations. He is a guy that could play on Staal’s wing or even as Skinner’s center and he is a sniper, something we are a little short on. The only reason Buffalo gets rid of him is to open up some cap space and I think they will do that at some point this season. The probably are not looking for any salary in return, so it would have to be prospects; but I think Boyes could be gotten on the cheap due to his salary. Chances: I don’t think it will happen, but JR does love the challenge of resurrecting a player’s career.
Rene Bourque – His name is probably going to thrown around a lot until he is actually traded. He’s a power forward that should give 25+ goals and around 50 points. He’s got 5 years left on his contract and has a little injury history. He’s a good player, but the length of the contract is a little more than JR typically likes to do. Calgary needs a lot, so anything could be in play; but I would expect a combination of prospect/young players and maybe a draft pick. It would be interesting to think about how small the Canes were a few years ago and if we acquired Bourque, we would be much bigger than we were. Chances: Two things tell me no. The length of the contract and someone will make the move before JR.
Olli Jokinen – A name that would make most cringe. Calgary would probably love to get rid of him, only to resign him after the season ended. He’s a 50 point player and would work as a 2nd line center, but he appears to be on the downside of his career. I don’t think it would take a lot to get him, but I don’t think the fans would like this move at all. Chances: This probably has as much chance of happening as the Canes have a chance of winning the Stanley Cup this season.
Lee Stempniak – He’s a RW, can score around 20 goals a season, and has some quickness. Beyond that, well there’s not a whole lot more to Lee’s game. He’s probably a fringe top 6 winger, but for some reason this seems like the type of acquisition JR would make to me. I can’t say we would have to give up much, but is it really worth it? The only thing this guy might provide over a Dalpe or Boychuk is NHL experience. Chances: It’s certainly possible, but I would probably pass. Stempniak seems more like part of a package than a trade candidate by himself.
Antoine Vermette – He might be a great 2nd line center for this team. He has speed, can play in both zones, can put up around 50 points, and is probably more of a distributor than scorer. The two main problems are his inconsistence and his contract. He’s got 4 years remaining at $3.75 million. That’s not unreasonable, but JR likes shorter contracts. Columbus has spent to the cap to make the playoffs and they are currently sitting in last place, 3 points behind the 29th place team (Boston). They need to do something; either get better fast or start selling off assets. Defense is a problem, so they would probably like a good defenseman or some prospects. Would Kaberle work? Chances: This could happen, but only if Kaberle is going back to Columbus IMO. The Canes wouldn’t want to increase their budget that much, so Columbus would have to take back some salary.
Derick Brassard – Brassard is similar to Turris in the fact there is potential there. In theory, he would be an ideal 2nd line center for now and the future. He should be a 40+ point player and be a distributor for Skinner. His +/- is bad, but is that more a result of his team’s poor defense and goaltending? He got somewhat of a hefty price tag and is still a RFA after the contract expires. Because of potential, something of value will have to go back Columbus’ way. I assume a young defenseman and maybe something else. I would suspect a package trade would have to be to make the money work out for both sides. Chances: I suspect this would be somewhat likely, more so if Carolina struggles and decides to go with younger players.
Ales Hemsky – Hemsky is one of the more talented players on the list, but he is also one of the most injured players. When healthy, Ales is a PPG playmaker that would look great on Staal’s right side. The problem is how often he is going to be there and what is it going to cost. His contract expires at the end of the season, so he’s a rental player that is currently injured; where’s the value in acquiring him? I’m sure he will be at the top of the list for a lot of teams, so Edmonton will look to get the most possible for him. Defense is their weakest point and they would like someone young. I imagine they would ask for McBain & a draft pick and JR would half to think. Chances: Slim. Hemsky is too injury prone and too big of a risk to go after.
Linus Omark – Omark has a very good upside and is creative. He’s on the small size and needs some more time to develop, so he probably isn’t helping out much right away. Edmonton has a lot of young forwards and Omark might be the odd man out due to his size. They wouldn’t just give me away though and would look at a defenseman coming back. I just can’t see us giving up anything they would want for this kid. We would probably need to be in a full rebuild to acquire him. Chances: This is not going to happen, plain & simple.
Dustin Penner – A year ago, this might have been more likely; but now? Penner was acquired by LA for basically two 1st round picks and has been bad. He’s just nothing like LA was expecting and is in the doghouse now. He’s big and so is his contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if LA just gave him away. I would say only JR and his reclamation project would even think Penner is an option right now. Chances: I think this is very unlikely, but JR digs deep in that bargain bin.
Wojtek Wolski – He got size and he got abilities, but he also seems to have brain cramps. For a guy with this much talent, he should be a star in the making; but he just doesn’t have the drive. Wolski should be able to put up 40+ points and even more if he gets his work ethic going. He could be a great addition or a complete waste. The Rangers would probably like a defenseman in return and probably one with some experience. Chances: Very unlikely. This kid has too many issues for the Canes to take a chance on him. If his contract was lower, then maybe.
Jason Spezza – This would be a blockbuster trade here. Spezza is an unbelievable talent, about a PPG, and good in the faceoff circle. The problem; a HUGE contract for 4 more years and he usually misses some games with injury. Only 1 in his career has he played over 80 games and has played below 70 in 5 seasons. Ottawa is unlikely to get rid of him and they have plenty of defensive prospects, so it would take a lot to get him. The only thing I could think of is either trading him or Staal straight up or some combination of our 1st round pick + some of our top prospects. Chances: Very slim to none. This would be a huge deal and I can’t see JR making that type of deal.
TJ Oshie – Here’s another kid with potential. Right now he is about a 40 point player, but he could be more. He got scoring ability, is defensively responsible, and he also will throw some hits. To me, Oshie is a better, more talented Chad LaRose. He can play center or wing, but would most likely play wing. St. Louis is full of young talent, so I’m not sure what they would ask for Oshie. Maybe a 1st round pick or a player like Ruutu, I’m not sure. Chances: I’m not sure how to rate this one, because I’m not sure what the Blues would want in return. I guess this would be a maybe.