Sunday Speculation: Who Would Have the Biggest Impact?

UNIONDALE NY - FEBRUARY 11: Jordan Staal #11 of the Pittsburgh Penguins warms up before playing against the New York Islanders on February 11 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

While the offseason is still relatively new, we have already experienced plenty of rumors involving our Hurricanes. Jim Rutherford has pretty much stated that Canes are looking for a top line player and are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire this talent. Darren Dreger said via Twitter that he expects the Canes to be strong bidders for Zach Parise & Ryan Suter. Bob Mackenzie tweeted that he wouldn't be shocked seeing Jordan Staal ending up in Carolina. And even our own C-Leaguer has suggested a potential way for us to get the #3 overall pick & Scott Gomez. We also still have the #8 overall selection in this year's draft and depending on who we select, maybe they will turn into another Jeff Skinner.

So my question for you is: Which one scenario would positively impact the Canes the most, both short-term and long-term? Would signing Zach Parise to big money finally give us a legitimate 1st line and put us over the top? Would signing Ryan Suter improve what many consider is the weakest part of our game, defense? Would trading for Jordan Staal make us a Playoff team and serious contender? Would trading for the #3 pick & Scott Gomez set this team up for the future? Or should we just stay the course and select the best player available at #8? I'm not saying any one of these things will happen, but I'm asking which one would have the most impact to this organization if it did happen. I will give a few more details about each scenario after the jump.

Signing Free Agent Zach Parise - There is still no guarantee that Parise will even make it to free agency. The Devils are doing well in the Playoffs and Zach might believe his best chance of winning the Cup will be as a Devil alongside Ilya Kovalchuk. If he does make it to the free agent market, there will be plenty of suitors for his services. The only 2 things that COULD be going for the Hurricanes would be the contract amount they would offer Parise and the possible relationships he has already in place in Carolina (Muller, MacLean, & Staal). If he signs here, it will be with the hope that he is the answer for getting us over the hump and we become a consistent Playoff team. It would likely take $7.5 million + and a sizable contract length. He would take over the left wing spot beside Eric Staal and should help create a seriously dangerous top line. Both Staal & Parise are in the neighborhood of PPG players and they might be able to reach 90 points playing together.

Signing Free Agent Ryan Suter - This is another case of who even knows if he will get to free agency. Nashville is a consistent Playoff team and has one of the strongest defensive cores in the NHL. What they need is a legit scoring forward to help the team. The Predators have plenty of cap space to acquire that type of player, but are they willing to spend to get it. If Suter doesn't believe they will, then he might explore his options. He also will have plenty of teams chasing him. He currently plays in a small market, so he could move to Carolina without much shock. And in Carolina, he would be playing second fiddle to Shea Weber. I'm thinking the Canes would have to offer around $6.5 million a season to entice Suter to come here, but his price could even be higher than that. He is an excellent two-way defenseman and would help to solidify a Canes defense. Imagine him playing with and teaching Justin Faulk, it would be nice. I honestly think though this is the most unlikely option of all these scenarios (even the Gomez one).

Trading for Jordan Staal - Are the Penguins really considering traded Jordan? This seems to be the question of the week. Staal would definitely be interesting to many teams, but with only 1 year remaining on his contract, any team that would trade for him would want to be pretty sure he will sign long-term. There is strong indication that he would like to go to Carolina to play with his brother, so if Pittsburgh does decide to trade him, they probably won't be dealing from a position of huge strength. The Pens would probably prefer a stay-at-home defenseman, but that's not something the Canes have a lot of. My guess is that it would take the #8 pick + a prospect (maybe Dalpe) for Jordan. He would definitely add to the Canes top 6 and would also bring some much needed size. If Eric switched to wing, the Staal boys could make an interesting 1st line or Jordan could center the 2nd line with Skinner and Ruutu. He is an huge talent that can play in all situations, but if the Canes picked him up, they would with the hope that his offensive production would increase with the increased role.

Trading Anthony Stewart & the #8 Pick for Scott Gomez & the #3 Pick - This is an interesting scenario brought to you by your local, neighborhood C-Leaguer. This proposed trade is really about acquiring the #3 Pick more than Gomez, but Gomez could help during the transition period. Gomez's salary is almost $2 million less than his cap hit, but it is still $5.5 million next season and $4.5 million the season after. That's $10 million dollars for a forward that has less than 10 goals over the past 2 seasons. The #3 Pick could turn into an elite talent, but the draft is always filled with uncertainty. The Canes would also jettison Stewart and his $1 million salary. This is an unlikely option, but this might be an interesting backup plan if everything else falls through.

Stay the Course and Select the Best Available Prospect at #8 - Some people might believe the Canes are on the right path, they just need a little more development time. The #8 Pick should become a very good player, but you never know for sure and it might take a season or two for the pick to even make it to the NHL. The Canes could go after a forward or defenseman and this would be the most affordable option. If they choose to do this, they wouldn't have hardly any concerns about resigning Skinner after next season and still should have money to go after a free agent next offseason. Most years, this would be the most likely path the Canes would take, but I believe this is going to be a different offseason in Raleigh.

So, what scenario would have the biggest impact for the Hurricanes organization? Let me know your thought and why you believe your choice would help the Canes the most.

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