Every team in the league faces an unusual task this offseason with the expansion draft occurring. Some teams are in desperate situations and others, such as the Carolina Hurricanes, seem to have a good idea what is supposed to happen. But what happens if an injury or a potential agreement with Vegas arises and changes the plan?
We’ve come up with a small list of possibilities outside the general plan for the Hurricanes to get the conversations started about the “What if.”
First off: we can’t talk about what if’s without discussing what appears to be the Hurricanes’ plan for now. With Ryan Murphy playing each game, it is expected he will meet the exposure criteria by the end of the season. Along with Murphy, Joakim Nordstrom and Lee Stempniak are candidates to be exposed. One of the two goalies will be on the block but with the way they are both playing this season, it could be a crap shoot as to which gets exposed. A lot more information about all of this can be found here.
So, what if things go wrong or something changes that plan? Here are a few potential scenarios we pose to attempt to get some conversation going and to get the opinion from each of you on how you feel the Canes could handle these situations.
- What happens if Ryan Murphy fails to play enough games down the stretch to meet the criteria for expansion? He can miss 2 games and still make it but that is cutting it extremely close.
Should an injury or a Bill Peters benching cause Murphy to not meet the eligibility for the expansion draft the simplest solution would seem to be extend Klas Dahlbeck. He already meets the games played requirement and this also would give the Canes their 7th defenseman signed for next season (should he not be selected). For a good portion of the season we pondered what would happen on defense and many thought either Dahlbeck, Matt Tennyson, or Ron Hainsey would be extended to make sure the Canes would meet the expansion requirements.
Since the Hurricanes decided to call off the season early and Hainsey was dealt to Pittsburgh, that only leaves Dahlbeck and Tennyson as a backup plan to Murphy. Tennyson needs to play in 5 of the teams last 20 games to be eligible for the expansion draft. So once again we are looking at Murphy and Tennyson and wondering what happens if injuries kick in.
The simple answer is once again, just extend Dahlbeck. No need to risk having to expose Justin Faulk when you have Dahlbeck. The team may need to throw a little extra money at Dahlbeck since he (and more importantly his agent) will fully know the main reason the team wants to re-sign him is due to having to have someone for the expansion draft but for a team that dwells at the cap floor an extra million shouldn’t really matter.
Speaking of Faulk, he truly is the only defenseman the Canes need to protect. Everyone else is either not eligible (Hanifin, Slavin, et al.) or a borderline NHL defenseman that won’t be missed if claimed by Vegas.
- So with that being said, can the Hurricanes exploit their protection room on defense to swap assets with another team and get some value in return?
Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jake Bean, and Haydn Fleury are all ineligible for the expansion draft (thankfully!). Due to them not being eligible, this leaves the Canes in an interesting situation. Many teams with a plethora of talent will be looking to get something in return for that talent without having to expose the player and risk losing him for nothing. Look at Pittsburgh or Chicago, for example. They have loads of talent and a lot of players that have no-movement clauses (those players must be protected unless they waive their right).
In a pinch one of these teams may be willing to deal a player in exchange for a young player who is not eligible to be in the expansion draft. If I was Ron Francis I would be very open to this, but only for the right deal. Very few teams have such a young core on defense like the Hurricanes do, but for the right deal, anything should be fair game.
- Somewhat along the same lines, how could the Canes improve their goaltending situation with their, um, Lack of good goalies that need to be exposed currently. Let’s be realistic, who would want Cam Ward?
It is highly unlikely that he would be taken in the expansion draft. Eddie Lack however could be a possibility. A cheap contract with only one year left could be attractive for Vegas, especially for a guy who knows the Western Conference well. So what can the Canes do to take advantage of this? They could try to deal Lack and some other pieces to garner a true number one goalie before the expansion draft.
If Francis thinks Marc-Andre Fleury is a better option, could he work a deal with Jim Rutherford? Fleury has a no-movement clause so he has to be protected anyways. Surely Fleury knows his time in Pittsburgh is up so he would likely be willing to waive his NMC for a trade. If they acquired Fleury the team would have to protect him and then expose Ward.
The real question for Francis would be is there a true deal worth making without mortgaging the future? Is Fleury or another goalie out there that a team needs to move really worth it?
Lastly we explore the possibility of the Hurricanes making a deal with Vegas to ensure they select or do not select a certain player.
- Is there any situation where dealing with Vegas to either protect a player from being drafted or for a certain player to be drafted from the Canes would be beneficial?
It’s hard to see where the Canes have a need to do this unless for some very crazy reason the team was forced to expose Justin Faulk. Even if re-signing Klas Dahlbeck becomes a necessity, there should be no reason why Faulk should have to be exposed no matter what happens. Stempniak, Nordstrom, Dahlbeck, Murphy, or Tennyson are not worth trading away a draft pick to ensure Vegas does not pick them. This should be a simple answer for the Canes but you never know what might be running through the head of Ron Francis.
So there you go, just a few things to think about and discuss for the time being. What do you think? Can the Hurricanes take advantage of a team in desperation and bring something better back to Raleigh? Could they potentially improve their offense and goaltending without giving up the future of the defense or a bunch of picks? A lot of decisions will be made this off-season and Ron Francis surely has his hands full.