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Free Agent Spotlight: Trade Deadline Pieces Ron Hainsey and Viktor Stalberg could be Good Fits in Carolina again

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After bringing in key assets at the trade deadline earlier in the year, Hainsey and Stalberg might serve a different purpose for Carolina this season.

Jamie Kellner

For years, the Carolina Hurricanes have been sellers at the trade deadline, and this past year, Ron Hainsey and Viktor Stalberg were victims to this rebuilding strategy implemented by Ron Francis.

It’s a new day for Carolina.

Acquiring Scott Darling will hopefully solve the goalie turmoil, which should add plenty of legitimacy to a playoff run for the Hurricanes in 2017-18.

If the Canes are going to do it, they’ll need depth. That’s where former Hurricanes Hainsey and Stalberg come in. Could these pending unrestricted free agents make their way back to Raleigh?


Jamie Kellner

Ron Hainsey Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 36
  • 2016-17 Season: 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points in 72 games (56 in CAR, 16 in PIT)
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 49.72% Corsi for, 98.38 PDO, 41.67 goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $2,500,000
  • Contract Ending: Three-year, $8.5 million, $2.833 million AAV, signed June 25, 2014 (extension)

Ron Hainsey served as the veteran piece on Carolina’s young blue line over the past few years and his play justified his role as a top-six defenseman.

His play in Carolina was impactful beyond the leadership role that he took on. He was a consistent partner for whoever he lined up with, whether it was Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, or a struggling Ryan Murphy.

His flaws were exposed when he was over slotted. The downside of having a young defense was often having to overuse Hainsey. Although he succeeded and did what the coaching staff asked of him, he would have been better utilized as a bottom-pairing defenseman and penalty killer, not an all-around top-four guy.

Bringing him back into the fold would have its clear benefits. The familiarity that he has with this team and Bill Peters’ system would eliminate any learning curve, and Noah Hanifin’s play down the stretch would suggest that Hainsey wouldn't have to step in and play 20+ minutes every night in a top-four role. Instead, he could play on the bottom pairing with another free agent or trade addition or a guy like Haydn Fleury who is on the cusp of being an NHL player after a great rookie year in the AHL.

As he ages, his mobility will continue to dwindle, but he’s been able to skate with a fast Pittsburgh club throughout the playoffs and his mobility was never a real issue with Carolina.

His possession numbers went down after being traded, as is natural on the Penguins, but his numbers with Carolina throughout the past few seasons suggest that he’d still be a good fit on this roster. He’d also be a relatively inexpensive choice to fill out the blueline.


Jamie Kellner

Viktor Stalberg Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 31
  • 2016-17 Season: 11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points in 75 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 49.96% Corsi for, 100.61 PDO, 39.13% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $1,500,000
  • Contract Ending: One-year, $1.5 million, signed July 1, 2016 (UFA)

Viktor Stalberg was signed as a bottom-six addition last summer for the Hurricanes, and you’ll have a tough time finding someone who thought he didn’t perform well.

Stalberg brought speed and physicality to the bottom-six, something that was desperately needed for this club, and his two-way game was a welcome addition.

For much of the season, he played alongside Jay McClement and Joakim Nordstrom, which resulted in a very good grinding line, despite the poor play of McClement down the middle.

Bringing Stalberg back would be for the same purpose that he was brought in the first time, except this time, he should have a better centerman to work off of, whether it be Lucas Wallmark or any number of centers hitting free agency this summer.

With a more capable guy down the middle, the assumption would be that his play would be that much better. His speed and physicality would continue to open up room for his linemates and make them hard to play against.

Like Hainsey, the Hurricanes know what they would get out of Stalberg, which would make the transition seamless as he knows what is expected of him from the coaching staff.

His play fit perfectly in what Peters likes to do. He plays fast and with a lot of intensity, and he proved to be a great penalty killer a season ago.

At an inexpensive deal, similar to what he signed a year ago, seeing him back in the bottom-six could be a great move by Ron Francis. Perhaps giving him two or three years would be even better, given the current state of the team. He won’t be trade deadline fodder again.