Good morning & Happy Father's Day to the Dads out there. Sorry I missed posting last Sunday, but I was out of town for the weekend and wasn't able to put anything together. But Sunday Speculation has returned and I thought I would try to focus on possible ways to improve our team for next season. With the already shallow free agent pool getting smaller & smaller every day, it appears the only way for the Canes to acquire some help is through trades. But there is one big problem for the Hurricanes when it comes to trades; we really don't have the assets needed to acquire the players we need. We have maybe 2 offensive defensemen and draft picks we can trade. Other than those, we would have to subtract to an already thin top 6 forward group to attempt to fill some of our holes. And many people are not very keen on the idea of the Canes giving up the 8th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
So what I have done in this article is try to come up with some speculative trades involving only Western Conference teams and none of the trades include our 1st round pick. You might not like my trade proposals or you might think they won't work for whatever reason and that is fine. If you disagree, let me know and give me some of your ideas. With these speculative trade proposals, I have also attempted to address the Canes Salary Cap situation. We currently need to add at most 4 players to our roster and around $9 million to our cap number to be above the Salary Cap Floor. I'm just trying to figure out what moves we can make that will result in the Canes being a better team in 2012/2013.
So here are 4 speculative trade proposals involving Western Conference Teams that do not include our 1st round pick. Please vote of the option that you would be most likely to support. If you choose none, select that option and let me know why. I hope you enjoy the read and please let me know what you think or let us hear any trade proposals you might have.
Carolina - In this trade, Carolina would be receiving 2 players that have high abilities, but have had a rough couple of seasons due to some injuries. Booth is a speedy winger that should be a 25+ goals per season guy. He's a decent size, will go to the net, and will deliver some hits. He hasn't really fit in Vancouver the way they hoped and he is definitely a shoot-first guy. But the hope would be that he can return to form and fill a void on either Staal's or Skinner's wing (assuming Skinner is moved to center with Jussi gone). They would also get a RFA in Mason Raymond who is a solid two-way player, but he too has been limited by a vertebrae injury. Raymond isn't a physical player, but one that relies on his skating ability. He doesn't put up great numbers, but he is solid both offensively & defensively. I think he might be a player that could fit beside Sutter to provide a little more offensive punch and he could also work on the PP & PK. Both of these players are a risk, but they could fill some holes in the Canes lineup if they return to form.
Vancouver - In this trade, the Nucks would be receiving a versatile top 9 player, a bottom 6 guy that can contribute some energy & goals and a mid 2nd round pick. Jokinen would likely be Vancouver's 3rd line center, but with Ryan Kesler expected to miss some of the beginning of the season, he could fill in as the 2nd line center until Kesler's return. At that point, Jussi would go to the 3rd line or potentially move over to a wing position on Kesler's line. Jussi can really help out a lot and I would hate to see him so, but you have to give up something to get something. He is about a 50 point per season player, but I do not see him returning to the 30 goal, 60 point season he had in 09/10. In LaRose, the Canucks would get an energy guy that can agitate and provide some secondary scoring. He would most likely end up on Vancouver's 4th line, but he could be used on the PK and could play on the 3rd line at times. He could also provide a little bit of insurance for Zack Kassian, who Vancouver is hoping/expecting to contribute significantly next season. The 2nd round pick might not even be needed, but could be thrown in if necessary. The Canucks would be giving up 2 players they didn't rely on too much in 11/12. Rumor has it that they are looking to trade Raymond.
Salary Cap - Raymond is a RFA, so his salary cap number is still in question. But assuming he signs for around $2.5 million, then Carolina would be adding $6.75 million to their cap, which would be $2.05 million more than Jokinen & LaRose. The Canes would still have 19 roster players, but the amount to the Salary Cap Floor would be down to around $7 million.
Carolina - In this trade, the Canes pick up a playmaking right wing that has plenty of injury concerns, but when healthy he is a very good player. Hemsky has only played in 116 games over the past 2 seasons and has only been at 0.67 PPG during that span. Now previous to the last 2 seasons, Hemsky averaged 0.80 PPG and that includes rather pedestrian numbers his first 2 seasons in the league. Hemsky, if healthy, would look real nice playing alongside Eric Staal. But he is another risk and almost certainly would not be a guy you could count on for a full season.
Edmonton - Edmonton would receive a young, offensive defenseman that does have 2 years of NHL experience plus a mid 2nd round pick. McBain is a defenseman that still needs to round out his game, but the guy has offensive abilities. He has scored more goals & produced more points than any Edmonton defenseman over the past 2 seasons. He would be able to step into their top 4 and he is young enough to be able to grow with their young core. And when his new contract expires, he will still be a RFA. The 2nd round pick could be used on a prospect or Edmonton could package it with something else to acquire another player. If Edmonton selects Nail Yakupov, as expected, they will really have 3 top 6 right wings and Hemsky is the most likely candidate to leave. He isn't very physical, so they can't use him on their 3rd line and getting a capable defenseman in return is probably their best bet.
Salary Cap - This trade would add $3.2 million to the Canes cap number for the next 2 seasons. They would still be at 19 roster players, but would be less than $6 million from the Salary Cap Floor. Edmonton would free up some money for the 2013/2014 season, which could be useful seeing as Jordan Eberle's & Taylor Hall's entry-level deal is set to expire at the end of next season.
Carolina - This trades helps address one significant issue with the Hurricanes and that is defense. We would gain a defensive defenseman to pair with one of our offensive guys and we would also take on an underperformer that has a little upside. Hammer is a solidly built, left-handed defenseman that is a shutdown guy. He's not going to provide much offense, and he really doesn't hit a lot either, but he is sound defensively and blocks a good number of shots. The Canes have plenty of offensive guys and Hjalmarsson would help balance the Canes blueline. I was thinking he could potentially play with Faulk on the Canes 2nd pairing. Frolik is simply a salary dump for Chicago. The gave him a contract extension and they probably wish they didn't. He has some abilities, is a decent skater, and can pass the puck, but he is really inconsistent. He was healthy scratched by Chicago a few games late last season. The Canes could probably put him on the 4th line and he might surprise at times, but unless he figures it out, he won't provide much.
Chicago - This is basically a cap clearing for Chicago so they pursue a free agent or a trade. The rumor is they want to go after Ryan Suter. But they would gain a couple of things in this deal. Brent is a 3rd/4th line center that is pretty good in the faceoff department. I also believe that last year showed he has some offense in him if he is given ample opportunity to display it. The Hawks could potentially line him up at the 3rd line center spot until one of their younger guys takes it and then Brent could be used for the 4th line center, he does come pretty cheap. Stewart would probably be thrown in just so the Canes could get rid of his salary. Chicago would most likely waive him or buy him out. Chicago would also get the Canes two 2nd round picks and could select some prospects or use them as trade sweeteners. I don't think Chicago really wants to get rid of Hjalmarsson, but if they can get Suter, it is a huge upgrade for them. Now, I think they would love to get rid of Frolik and this deal allows them to do just that.
Salary Cap - This proposed trade would increase the Canes cap number by $4.18 million and take them to within $5 million of the Salary Cap Floor with 19 roster players. But, the Canes would add another defenseman to an already crowded blueline, so they would probably have to trade one of the offensive defensemen. But it does help balance the backend more. Chicago would then have plenty of cap space to go after Suter and/or another player. Their only real concern would be if they missed out on a good defenseman to replace Hjalmarsson.
Carolina - In this trade, Carolina would get the more offensive Stewart brother. He's a big, power forward that had a very tough season last year. He was a RFA and the Blues resigned him, but he actually took a pay cut in doing so. He is or at least was a 25+ goal, 50+ point guy that has good wheels and is willing to drive the net. He is not the most responsible defensive player and that is why I think he struggled so much last year. The coach St. Louis brought in is strictly defense and trying to force a square peg in a round hole doesn't work. Stewart should be able to return to form and could play on either top 2 lines. He would provide some additional scoring for Staal's line, a offensive form of Erik Cole. Or he could play with Skinner and provide not only some scoring, but also some muscle. It is a risky move, but I think "Chris" Stewart is worth the gamble.
St. Louis - The Blues would gain someone that would probably work much better in Hitchcock's system in LaRose, a depth defenseman to help fill in for some of the expected departures, and a mid 2nd round pick to help refill their prospect cupboard. LaRose is a guy that seems just what Hitchcock ordered, an agitator that works hard and can score a couple of goals. And since the Blues have a couple more RFA's to sign, it looks like Stewart would be regulated to the 3rd line, which isn't really where he belongs. Chad would fit much better in that role and can provide those intangibles that we always hear about. Joslin is a guy that could really benefit from playing in St. Louis. He has potential for an all-around game, but he needs someone to teach him how to be responsible defensively (and the Canes don't seem to do that well). He has some physicality, just needs to learn how to use it correctly. I think he could be a 6th or 7th defenseman in St. Louis and that could really help his career. St. Louis would also pick up a draft pick to help them restock their farm system. They've had a couple of graduates lately and while still a very good organization, a 2nd rounder should be helpful.
Salary Cap - The Canes only gain about $600 thousand in this proposed trade, but they reduce their roster number to 18 players. So they are about $8.5 million away from the Salary Cap Floor with 5 players to get there. This move would also potentially open up a spot for one of the defensive prospects to take over the 7th defenseman role or the Canes could resign Jaroslav Spacek for that 7th defenseman/mentoring role.