An occasional series wherein we look at possible trade targets for the Carolina Hurricanes
The NHL season is now over a quarter of the way through. General managers and coaches across the league are starting to figure out what they have on the ice for this season and are starting to prepare for the expansion draft. Recently the rumor mill has been swirling, and the Carolina Hurricanes, being bereft of scoring lately, could find themselves shopping in the next few weeks before the December 19-27 holiday roster freeze.
Does it make sense for the Canes to be involved in these rumors, and how much would it cost GM Ron Francis to acquire one of these players? Below are five of the biggest names that are currently being shopped around the league including, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan Spooner.
What Trades Make Sense for the Canes?
Before getting into the specifics of each deal, it is good to look at the big picture of what the Canes’ needs and surpluses are. Though many projected the goaltending as the Canes’ biggest weakness this year, through the first two months of the season the Canes have been struggling most with scoring. The Canes are more likely to trade for a forward with scoring potential than depth or a prospect.
Where the Canes do not have an issue is on the blue line. Currently, the Canes have five defensemen under the age of 25 playing in the NHL (Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Ryan Murphy, Justin Faulk, and Noah Hanifin). On top of this, the Canes have defensive prospects in Roland McKeown and Haydn Fleury playing in Charlotte, with Jake Bean further down in the pipeline. Though it is tough to see a good young player go, the Canes have the depth to let one go and desperately need more scoring.
Ryan Spooner - C (Boston Bruins)
- The Ryan Spooner trade rumors have been fairly persistent all season, most recently reported by Joe Haggerty of CSN New England. The Bruins have been looking to move the 24-year-old center since the summer. Most recently the Bruins reportedly attempted to trade Spooner to the Winnipeg Jets as part of a package for Jacob Trouba. The Canes, New York Islanders, and Anaheim Ducks are reported to be interested in acquiring Spooner.
- Spooner scored 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists) in 80 games last season but has only recorded 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) this season. His struggles this season have led him to be removed from the power play unit, shifted to the wing, and seen him playing on the fourth line. His ability to play center and power play minutes would benefit the Canes, especially should the Canes suffer any more injuries at center either now or after Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm return.
- This summer the Bruins were looking to move Spooner to acquire a top-4 defenseman in Trouba, but are now rumored to alternately be looking for a top-6 forward to help with their lack of scoring. This would mean the Canes would likely have to give up Pesce or Slavin as defensemen or a forward like Elias Lindholm with Murphy or another smaller piece thrown in. This is one of the trades that makes the most sense for the Canes, at least right now.
Kevin Shattenkirk - D (St. Louis Blues)
- Shattenkirk is the most notable player rumored to be on the trade block. The 27-year-old defenseman is third in the league among defensemen with 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists). Shattenkirk’s name has been thrown out since last summer as a player who could be moved by the Blues, most recently mentioned in a reader chat by Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week.
- Not only has he been a consistent scorer, but Shattenkirk has six-plus seasons of NHL experience and currently serves as an alternate captain. He is a veteran who can bring leadership to any locker room. He will leave a hole in the Blues roster that will have a lengthy adjustment period, which is why they are shopping him early (if at all).
- The Blues will be looking to get a haul for a player like Shattenkirk, and the Canes just don’t have the pieces to move without doing significant damage to both the present and the future. Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and perhaps Noah Hanifin are the only pieces that the Canes could realistically offer and trading any of them wouldn’t make sense. Trading Skinner would send away the only consistent scoring the team has had this year, and trading Faulk or Hanifin for the older Shattenkirk would only succeed in making the team older while increasing payroll, two things that are anathema to Ron Francis.
Anthony Duclair - LW (Arizona Coyotes)
- Anthony Duclair was a major piece of the package that sent Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers at the 2015 trade deadline. Duclair is just 21 years old and is in his second full NHL season with the Coyotes. The Coyotes are not actively shopping Duclair but are entertaining offers, according to both Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet and Darren Dreger of TSN, and Duclair was a healthy scratch last night in the Coyotes’ loss to the Blue Jackets.
- Duclair is a physical player who has had scoring success in the past. Last season he registered 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) but much like Spooner has fallen off this season. In the current season, Duclair has only one goal and three assists in 23 games played.
- With the Hurricanes, Duclair would fit in as either a first or second line winger. His ability to win battles and be physical would be an ideal fit on a line with Skinner and Victor Rask, or with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen with some shuffling of wings.
- So what's not to love about making a deal for a young, energetic, physical winger with scoring ability? The Coyotes are looking for “significant return” and NHL GMs are reportedly starting to get frustrated with first-year GM John Chayka’s overvaluing of his players. From the Coyotes’ end, the conversation about any deal for Duclair probably starts with Hanifin, and anything more than that would be giving up too much (even that may be too much to begin with). It would be a swing for the fences for the Canes to acquire Duclair, and the payoff might be worth it but it is probably too big of a risk for Francis to take.
Dougie Hamilton - D (Calgary Flames)
- Hamilton is another player whose name has been perpetually mentioned in the rumor mill this season. Though the Flames are saying they aren’t shopping him, it is very clear that they are listening to offers.
- Hamilton leads all Flames defensemen with 13 points (3g, 10a). He is also fifth on the team with 38 hits and fourth on the team with 30 blocked shots.
- Much like the Hurricanes, the Flames have had issues scoring this season and are looking to improve their scoring by dealing a defenseman. So far the Maple Leafs have had the strongest interest in Hamilton as they are looking to round out their top 4.
- Though Hamilton is a great, young, big defensemen the Canes’ needs are too similar to the Flames and a deal is not likely. The Canes are also in the market for acquiring scoring so they wouldn’t trade a scarcity to only bolster a position of strength.
Gabriel Landeskog - LW/Matt Duchene - C (Colorado Avalanche)
- The rumors surrounding the Avalanche aren’t as concrete as the others, but the word from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal is that the Avalanche are looking to pick up a quality defenseman, and may be willing to dangle Landeskog or Duchene to get one.
- Both of these players would make fantastic acquisitions to the top six of the Carolina Hurricanes. Though Landeskog is the better and younger player of the two, Carolina could use more help at the Center position, so Duchene is the better trade target.
- Among the trade theories with the Avs is that they are looking to acquire a young defenseman like Cam Fowler from the Anaheim Ducks. A better option for Colorado could be to make a deal including either Pesce or Slavin (a Colorado native) who are a couple of years younger than Fowler and similar in talent. If there becomes a bidding war for either of these players, the Canes could and perhaps should go as high as offering Hanifin to get the deal done.
- Though this situation is the least likely to happen it is also the best scenario for the Canes. The needs and surpluses of both of the teams match up perfectly and though it would appear pretty lopsided for the Canes just look at the Taylor Hall/Adam Larsson trade from this summer. This situation is similar.
Though trades during this part of the season aren’t as common as deals at the deadline, that doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed not to happen. Teams are already looking to see how they can line themselves up for the expansion draft, which throws an extra bit of intrigue into this season’s machinations. With the absences of Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm from the lineup, the Canes may be ready sooner rather than later to pull off a trade that they may typically wait longer to make.