Before everybody jumps all over me for even suggesting this, please hear me out. I actually have a thought process and believe there would be some merits behind this trade. Obviously there would be many things that would need to be overcome, but in the end, it could be beneficial to both teams and both players. The first obstacle would be for Jim Rutherford and Jim Nill to actually propose and accept the trade. The second obstacle would be for Tim Gleason and Erik Cole to waive their No Trade Clauses and accept the trade. These are huge obstacles, but let me try to lay out why this trade could work if they were overcome.
Currently the Canes have 8 defensemen on the NHL roster. Brett Bellemore, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Jay Harrison and Mike Komisarek are all considered more defensive defensemen than offensive defensemen. Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera are a little more offensive, but it would probably be tough considering them offensive defensemen as well. So that means 7 of the 8 defensemen really focus on their own zone, meaning the Canes have some redundancy. And while he only has limited ice time this season, it seems as if Gleason just doesn’t fit in this defensive group. The Canes are 0-4-0 when Gleason is in the lineup and 8-4-4 when he isn’t. He’s not a bad defenseman, but because of the team’s current makeup, he doesn’t have a good playing partner and is somewhat of a liability.
The team’s defensive balance appears to be Faulk/Sekera, Hainsey/Bellemore and Harrison/Murphy. The first pairing is pretty set and Murphy’s skill set is something this team needs. Harrison is the guy that seems to have the most chemistry with Murphy, so that basically leaves the Hainsey/Bellemore pairing as the one that can be played with. The issue is that Bellemore has pretty much outplayed Gleason since the preseason started and Hainsey has been a very steady force for the Canes. Komisarek is only making $700 thousand, which makes him a logical 7th defenseman. Gleason on the other hand has a $4 million cap hit through the 2015/2016 season. That’s just too expensive for a non-regular player and who else deserves to be sat?
So I suggest moving Gleason to Dallas for Cole and here are some reasons why. First is money, plain and simple. While Cole has a $4.5 million cap hit this and next season compared to Gleason’s $4 million cap hit, Gleason has an extra year on his contract. Cole will be owed roughly around $8 million between now and when his contract expires, Gleason will be owed $12.5 million. Would you rather pay someone $4+ million the next 3 seasons that plays sparingly or someone $4 million the next 2 seasons that plays regularly in a limited role? But an issue is some of the comments that Cole made when he left Carolina and would Rutherford be the type that could forgive and forget? From a personal perspective, this hypothetical trade would be a no go, but from a strictly business/financial perspective, this trade actually makes some sense. The cap numbers would slightly benefit Dallas this and next season, but Carolina would free up some money up quicker in 2015/2016.
While Cole’s skills and production have diminished over the past couple of years, he does provide some things that Carolina is lacking and he does have proven chemistry with a few Hurricanes players. And even though he isn't producing like he use to, Cole does have the same number of points on the season as the Canes current 3rd line. I would think that Cole could be slotted with Jeff Skinner and possibly Tuomo Ruutu. Imagine a 3rd line of Skinner/Ruutu/Cole or Ruutu/Skinner/Cole? If Ruutu and Cole could regain some of their former glory, that could be a very interesting line for opposing teams to match up against. Cole could help protect Skinner, while also providing a net presence and space for him to operate. Cole could also contribute some on the Power Play and Penalty Kill. He also adds some size and physicality that the Canes don't have much of. The key would be for Rutherford to look beyond his personal feelings and for Cole to actually accept a trade back to Raleigh.
So you might ask, why would Dallas make this trade? Dallas is currently 20th in the NHL in goals against per game and is 26th in total hits. They have some good young defenders, but they aren’t quite ready for full time NHL duty yet. Gleason has averaged 3.5 hits in his 4 games this season, that’s over 1.1 more per game than the Stars top defensive hitter. Gleason adds some physicality and some more experience to Dallas’ blueline. Also throw in that Cole is number 9 forward on the Stars in TOI/G. Over the month of November, he is only averaging 10:44 of ice time, has 0 points and is a -6 on a team is is 5-1-1. Cole is basically a non-essential component of this Stars team, so moving him for someone that would contribute makes sense for Dallas. It would also give the Stars organization a little more time to allow their defensive prospects to develop, without forcing them into action before they are ready.
While this hypothetical trade is very unlikely to happen, I believe it could make sense for both organizations and both players involved. Rutherford & Cole would have to swallow their prides and Gleason would have to waive his NTC. But Cole could serve a useful role on this Carolina team and Gleason could do the same for Dallas. Financial this works and depth-wise this works. Beyond the hard feelings, this is a trade that could certainly work. But what are are your thoughts?