Ok, so Jim Rutherford is looking for some way to add Ron Hainsey to the Hurricanes roster. It is rumored that he is trying to move a contract (maybe a defenseman) to allow himself enough space sign Hainsey. So I've come up with some hypothetical scenarios for the Hurricanes. I'm trying to incorporate what appears to be desire plus some other moves that I believe should make the team overall better and allow for Justin Faulk and Jiri Tlusty to be resigned rather easily after the season. I know there will be plenty of you that will disagree with my hypothetical moves, but it's just an idea.
Move # 1 - Hurricanes trade Joni Pitkanen to the NY Islanders for Matt Martin. The Islanders are above the salary cap floor, but not by a lot. While their forward ranks seem to be pretty much addressed, they still haven't really replaced their former captain and #1 defenseman Mark Streit. If he could remain healthy, Pitkanen should be able to fill Streit's void and would probably instantly be the Isles #1 defenseman. His skating, passing and ability to eat minutes would probably improve the team's defense. Pitkanen's salary and cap hit wouldn't appear to be much of an issue for New York, as they would still have plenty of cap space to play with.
The Hurricanes would acquire Matt Martin, a physical bottom 6 winger that has a little offensive abilities. Martin is a tough guy that loves to hit, but isn't a liability on the ice. I'm not sure if he is really a 3rd liner, but he is still young and I believe he could handle that role if necessary. He hasn't put up great offensive numbers in the NHL, but he does provide some offense. And he was an effective scorer in the junior ranks. He is signed for three more seasons at a $1 million cap hit. So if this trade occurred, the Canes would save $3.5 million in cap space this season.
Move #2 - Hurricanes sign Ron Hainsey to a 1 year, $3 million contract. While I don't think Hainsey would be an upgrade over Pitkanen, he has some similarities and has generally remained a lot healthier than Pitkanen. He's a veteran, puck-moving defenseman that also has good size and blocks more shots than Joni. He seems like a steady defenseman and if paired with Faulk, he would allow Faulk more freedom. The $3 million price tag isn't too excessive and coupled with the previous trade, the Canes would still be coming out ahead by $500 thousand.
Move #3 - Hurricanes trade Jeff Skinner and Jeremy Welsh to the Phoenix Coyotes for the rights to Mikkel Boedker and Brandon Gormley. I'm sure I'll hear it on this one, but according to Sittler27 yesterday, Skinner maybe doesn't have as much value as we Hurricanes fans believe. This would be a move that provides Phoenix with a young scoring winger that can be a PR dream. Skinner would instantly upgrade the Coyotes offense and their defensive style of play should help make up for his weakness. He would also be a boon to a franchise that despite some recent success, is still struggling getting people in the building. With Skinner and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Yotes would have two dynamic young stars to build their franchise around. Welsh's inclusion is a result of Skinner's value as well as the Coyotes need for forward depth. Welsh would probably be just a 4th liner, but could always develop into more. He can also play center or left wing and has a good frame.
The Hurricanes would acquire the rights to RFA Boedker, who is a young, speedy winger that plays a solid two-way game. Boedker can play either wing and is probably best suited for a 2nd or 3rd line role. His offensive potential isn't near Skinner, but he has some and plays well in his own zone. Last season was his best in the NHL and he should continue to improve. He is a RFA, so the Canes would have to work out a new contract with him. I would suggest a 2 year, $5.75 million contract ($2.875 million cap hit). The Canes would also get a good young defenseman in Gormley that is still on his entry-level deal. Gormley is a top 50 NHL prospect and projects as a solid two-way, top pairing defenseman. He still has a little development to do, but could be called up at some point during the season. He is a guy that could eventually (pretty soon) be a good partner for Faulk and create a very solid two-way pairing. He would instantly become the Canes top defensive prospect.
Move #4 - Hurricanes sign Jaromir Jagr to a 1 year, $4 million contract. To add some experience and depth to the forward lines, the Canes sign the future Hall of Famer to a one year deal with the hopes that he helps them get back into the playoffs. Jagr is up there in age, but he still has the ability to be a good forward in the NHL. He protects the puck so well, is tremendously creative and is responsible defensively. But the area he would probably help out the most is on the PP. If Jagr gets hurt or doesn't really work out, the Canes would still have Dalpe and Rask to potentially take his roster spot. I think Jagr would fit nicely beside JStaal, allowing Ruutu to move around a bit and maybe balancing the lines a little more.
So here would be my projected lineup with these roster moves with salary cap figures:
Mikkel Boedker ($2.875M) / Jordan Staal ($6.0M) / Jaromir Jagr ($4.0M)
Kevin Westgarth ($725K)
Ron Hainsey ($3.0M) / Justin Faulk ($900K)
Brett Bellemore ($550K)
Total Cap Hit - $61 million (leaving $3.3 million in cap space)
I would leave the top line together, because they simply worked last year. But if things needed to be shaken up, Tlusty has some history with Jagr. The 2nd line would be defensively responsible, but also with scoring punch. Boedker would add an element of speed to the line and Jagr would be the playmaker. Boedker can play either wing and could be moved down to the 3rd line if needed. I would have Lindholm center the 3rd line with two physical wingers, but guys who can put in a couple of goals as well. Ruutu would be able to take over the 3rd line center position if it proved too much for the rookie and Lindholm could switch to RW. The 4th line would have Nash centering Dwyer and Bowman. Hopefully Nash could increase his PK time, giving the big boys more time to rest. Dalpe, Rask, Sutter and Palushaj would probably be the first forward call-ups. The defense would have Hainsey pairing with Faulk, giving Faulk a little more freedom than Pitkanen would allow. Gleason and Sekera would create the Canes shutdown line. And Harrison and Komisarek would provide some big, physical guys on the bottom pairing. Bellemore would be the extra defenseman with Gormley, Murphy and Flood probably being the first callups.
The Canes would still have space to add someone at the trade deadline if needed and with Jagr, Bowman, Westgarth, Hainsey, Komisarek, Bellemore, Khudobin, Jokinen and Joslin's salaries coming off the books; that's $11.4 million (not including any salary cap increases) to resign players like Tlusty and Faulk. It also allows another year of development for some of the defensive prospects and hope they might be able to fill some of these voids in 14/15 while they are on cheap entry-level deals.
Again, this is all hypothetical, but maybe something along this line could address some of the holes in the lineup.