CandyCanes 2014 Offseason Plans
So I feel like the Canes have a real good opportunity this off season to make some major moves and change the look of the team with a few smart acquisitions this off season. But key components of making that happen are trading Cam Ward and his large contract, and possibly buying out John Michael Liles or finding a trade partner for Liles.
With Ronny Franchise as the new GM I do think he will stick to his words and get our team bigger and stronger, so the Canes will find some players that have size and add some team toughness back in Carolina. (Side note: about team toughness. The Canes only had 8 fighting majors this past season, good for 2nd last in the NHL. The average fighting majors per team was 30 this season.)
Also I think the Canes will look at add some forwards that add a good mix two way hockey.
So currently the Canes sit at 14 players on the roster, and with $18.4 million in cap space expected with the expected $71.1 million cap next season according to CapGeek.com. I will update you along the way with how much cap space is left after each acquisitions.
RFA Loktionov Re-Signed 2years, $1.75mill (Canes Cap left $17.5 million)
I was highly impressed with Loktionov, and think he has a full time role as either are 3rd or 4th line center.
The Cam Ward Trade + Riley Nash
I honestly think this move is so necessary for the Canes to be successful this season. Cam’s 6mil+ cap hit is such a burden to the team that we really need to find something to do about it. So the Canes find the Flames to be the right trade partner.
So the Canes move Cam Ward, Riley Nash,and the rights to RFA Drayson Bowman for Shane O’ Brien and Brian McGrattan. The Canes had to retain 18.5% of Ward’s contract in the trade. Costing them about $1.17 million for the next two seasons.
We acquired two players Calgary does not value very much, but could be good fill in pieces for the Canes roster. Shane O’ Brien gets paid $2mill and McGratten gets 750K.
Shane O’Brien has struggled for a few seasons, but might be able to contribute as a decent 3rd pairing defensemen for the Canes.
Brian McGrattan became useless for the Flames since they brought in Kevin Westgarth last season. I believe Francis believes in team toughness unlike Rutherford. So McGrattan will bring the fighting excitement back in Carolina being able to drop the gloves from time to time sticking up for our players.
(This trade saves us about $3 million in cap space. Are cap space is now at $20.5 million)
UFA Center Brian Boyle Signed 3 years, $6.3 mill (Cap Left $18.2 mill)
With Riley Nash moved this opens up a center spot for the Canes to add to their needs. Brian Boyle comes in and adds immediate size at 6’7, 244 pounds. The guy plays some hard nosed hockey, throws some big hits, is a great face-off man close to 53% this regular season, is considered a great penalty killer, and can chip in offensively from time to time.
Other Potential Candidates
(Steve Ott, but he seems like he would be a little too pricey to be a 3rd line center. Another affordable option might be Marcel Goc, maybe?? I am so high on Boyle as he fits the teams needs perfectly, that it is just hard to consider anyone else haha)
Canes depth chart at center (E. Staal, J. Staal, Boyle, Loktionov)
The Left Wingers
So currently the Canes technically only have one left wing signed, and that is Jeff Skinner. The Canes have some good options with are RFA’s to fill up the final three spots, but I think the Canes will look to add a new guy on top of our RFA’s to help fill in the left wing spots and add competition for that 2nd line spot.
RFA Jiri Tlusty Re-signed 1 year, $1.7 mill (Cap Left $16.5 mill)
Jiri Tlusty while he was talked about being traded last season, I think he needs to be brought back. He is the only guy on the team with proven chemistry with our top line of E. Staal and Semin they just need to find the chemistry again. If Tlusty does not work out as a top 6 role he is a valuable player playing a bottom 6 role also.
RFA Nathan Gerbe Re-signed 1 year, $1.35 mill (Cap Left $15.2 mill)
This was a tough one, I LOVED his play this past season. But with the Canes looking to get bigger and tougher this makes Gerbe start to fall out of the picture unless he finds him self slotted up on one of the top 2 lines. Gerbe is not suited to play a bottom 6 checking role, so if he finds him self there it is a bad situation to be in. Gerbe's style of play is not suited to play against grinder type players. So Gerbe might get lost in the picture, and may become expendable later in the season.
RFA Zach Boychuk Re-signed 1 year, 680K, 2 way contract (Canes Cap Left $14.5 mill)
People might call me crazy, but I think Boychuk looked very motivated last year and might FINALLY be ready for the NHL full time. During his call ups this year, I was super impressed with him. He is my front runner to be one of top 2 left wingers along with Skinner. If it does not work out he can be sent back to Charlotte of course, but I really can not imagine Boychuk playing a checking role either with the Canes.
UFA Left Winger Daniel Winnik Signed 2 years, $4.3 mill (Cap Left $12.4 mill)
Winnik is a perfect player for our 3rd line. Winnik is a very under rated player in the NHL, and is considered to be a very good defensive forward. The additions of Winnik and Boyle could create for a perfect 3rd line shutdown role along with Lindholm at right wing. Winnik is also 34 years old and can add some much needed veteran leadership to our team, and would probably be a great guy for Lindholm to learn from. Winnik if needed can also play center in certain situations.
Other Potential Candidates
(Dany Heatley - I can imagine the Canes trying another one of those reclamation projects. So maybe they try Dany Heatley? He has struggled recently, but also has the resume of being a 6 time 35+ goal scorer. I am very intrigued at how much Heatley is going to get this off season, he could become elite again in the right situation I believe.)
Canes depth chart at left wing (Skinner, Tlusty, Gerbe, Winnik, Boychuk)
The Right Wingers
So this is where the Canes make their big splash. Canes add a legitimate top 6 forward to the squad.
UFA Right Winger Ryan Callahan Signed 4 years, $24.8 mill (Cap Left $6.2 mill)
Once again the Canes concentrate getting better defensively on all ends of the ice. So they add Ryan Callahan, considered to be one of the best defensive forwards in the game. I do feel like this is a risk signing since he has such a high price tag. But I think he can come in and make a major impact on either Eric or Jordan’s wing. His game is a gritty defensive game that will open the ice up for his line mates and should increase more time in our offensive zone. So with more offensive time in our zone it should hopefully create more scoring chances for whom ever he plays with.
Other Potential Candidates
(Jarome Iginla, maybe a little more affordable short term option could be Iginla at rightwing? Guy proved this season he can still play and contribute good numbers, and is still a great all around hockey player. Could be a great mentor for Skinny and Lindholm)
Canes depth chart at right wing (Semin, Callahan, Lindholm, Dwyer, McGrattan)
I honestly feel like the defense does not need much changing. We have some young guys on the blue line that should only get better next season. Also we only scored 207 goals this past season, good for 24th place in the league. We gave up 230 goals good for 18th place in the league. So I felt like addressing the offense was the bigger issue this off season.
(Canes decide not to re sign Hainsey, with the acquisition of O’ Brien in the Cam Ward trade)
UFA Defensemen Brett Bellemore Re-signed 2 year, 1.75m. (Cap Left $5.3 mill)
Brett Bellemore showed us last year he is very capable of being a valuable shut down defensemen. He is also young, and should hopefully get better. So I say we re sign him.
Another big question?
So I think something that might get talked about this off season is a potential buyout of John Michael Liles or see if he can be moved with out of having to take much salary back. JML is definitely a player Rutherford sought out for, and might not fit Francis’s ideal squad.
Other Potential Candidates
If JML does get bought out it saves the Canes close to $4mill in cap space and could potentially let the Canes sign a guy like Stephan Robidas or Andrej Meszaros. I particularly like Meszaros as the Canes option.
The Goaltending Situation
Its amazing how one small signing last year (Khudobin) could help us start the domino effect of our team looking completely different. Without Khudobin it never gives us the option to move our Six Million Dollar Man Cam Ward. I think the Canes go with the affordable option of just re signing Justin Peters as the backup.
UFA Goalie Justin Peters Re-signed 1 year, 790K (Cap Left $4.5 mill)
Eh, Why not haha?
Other Goalie Options
(If we do not bring back Peters. Jonas Gustavsson, Al Montoya, and Chad Johnson are all decent options.)
My Projected Lineup:
1st line: Tlusty - E. Staal - Semin
2nd line: Skinner - J. Staal - Callahan
3rd line: Winnik - Boyle - Lindholm
4th line: Gerbe- Loktionov - Dwyer
Extras: Boychuk & McGrattan
Faulk - Sekera
Murphy - Bellemore
O'Brien - Liles
Starting goalie - Khudobin
Backup goalie - Peters
So with all these acquisitions, and re-signed players the Canes sit comfortably with $4.5 mill in cap space remaining, to start the season with. With these moves the Canes were able to add size, team toughness, brough in players that play good two way style hockey, added some key depth players, and added a legitimate top 6 winger.
To see the break down of contracts from these acquisitions head to my Capgeek Armchair page. http://www.capgeek.com/armchair-gm/roster/15715