Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has not built a reputation as a big free agent market buyer, but instead he has chosen to take much more calculated risks as he rebuilds the Carolina Hurricanes. The free agent market is a dangerous place, and perhaps the Hurricanes should be looking for tried and true talent elsewhere this offseason.
What players currently under contract with other teams would have the best impact on the rebuilding franchise? And maybe most importantly, what would the Canes have to give up? Here is a look at three players who would make a great addition to the Canes’ young roster.
Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild
Tale of the Tape
- Age: 23
- 2016-17 Season: 3 goals, 22 assists, 25 points in 68 games
- Career (MIN): 18 goals, 61 assists, 79 points in 331 games
- 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 50.1% Corsi-for, 101.0 PDO, 47.0% zone starts, 55.3% goals for
- 2016-17 Salary: $4,500,000
- Contract: Signed through 2021, $25 million total, $4.167 million AAV
Obviously, the Wild would prefer to keep Brodin, but the expansion draft is throwing a significant wrench in those plans. With four players on no-movement clauses and required to be protected, the Wild are going to lose a key piece to someone, whether it’s the Vegas Golden Knights or another team in a trade.
Still only 23, Brodin has just finished his fifth NHL season, and he could be a key piece to the Canes’ blue line for years to come. His acquisition could also allow for the Canes to be more aggressive in acquiring a forward, having a top-four defenseman already in the fold instead of needing to rely on a rookie or a depth defenseman in a more key role.
Should the Canes target Brodin - or, for that matter, Matt Dumba, who is in a similar situation - they would need to send the Wild an NHL-ready, expansion draft-exempt defenseman. Haydn Fleury fits the bill, and given the circumstances the Wild would have to seriously consider a straight-up trade of Fleury for Brodin or Dumba. That deal would solve a bunch of problems for the Wild, giving them salary-cap relief while solving their expansion draft conundrum, while also providing the Canes all sorts of flexibility at the same time.
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tale of the Tape
- Age: 21
- 2016-17 Season: 18 goals, 22 assists, 40 points in 68 games
- Career (TBL): 18 goals, 22 assists, 40 points in 68 games
- 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 52.6% Corsi-for, 101.3 PDO, 58.2% zone starts, 54.8% goals for
- 2016-17 Salary: $667,500
- Contract: Completed first year of three-year ELC
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a unique situation this offseason. After failing to make the playoffs, the team that previously seemed poised to win a Stanley Cup is trending downwards. Three of their biggest offensive producers — Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat — are all restricted free agents this summer. Furthermore, defenseman Andrej Sustr is also an RFA in need of a new contract. They have some wiggle room with about $17.5 million in cap space, but chances are the team will be tying a lot of that up this summer.
So why would the Canes target a player like Brayden Point? He is a young, promising center who scored 18 goals and 40 points in his rookie season in the NHL. Point projects to be a top-two center in this league and would be a great addition to the young Hurricanes core. Additionally, the Hurricanes would likely not pay quite as much for him as they would a tried and true top-six guy in the league.
I would propose either Cam Ward or Eddie Lack, Fleury, and a 2017 second round pick for Point. The Lightning are operating without a backup right now, and either goaltender would fill that role well for them next season. At the same time, Fleury would give the Lightning much needed defensive help. Brayden Point would be a wonderful addition to the Hurricanes and would work wonders in the middle of the lineup in the future.
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Tale of the Tape
- Age: 27
- 2016-17 Season: 20 goals, 31 assists, 51 points in 82 games
- Career (EDM): 165 goals, 217 assists, 382 points in 507 games
- 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 51.9% Corsi-for, 100.9 PDO, 54.0% zone starts, 56.3% goals for
- 2016-17 Salary: $6,000,000
- Contract: Signed through 2019, $36 million total, $6 million AAV
The Oilers are finally a playoff team again. The club has found ways to convert their ridiculous amount of lottery picks into a team that appears to be Stanley Cup contenders in the near future. The fans in Alberta are happy again.
However, a name that continues to be thrown around in trade talks is right winger Jordan Eberle. Despite a pretty consistent offensive production, the 27-year-old seems to be closer to his way out of Edmonton than anyone else. Eberle’s offensive prowess cannot be denied. He’s scored at least 20 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons, and some of his most productive years came on Oilers teams that were historically bad. Quite frankly, Eberle does not get enough credit in Edmonton. The winger would bring good valuable experience to the Hurricanes as well as bona fide scoring potential.
So what would the Hurricanes have to give up in order to land Eberle? Most likely, the team would have to give up established NHL talent. However, this trade is made more likely by the recent injury to former Hurricane defenseman Andrej Sekera. A torn ACL will put him out of commission for 6 to 9 months, likely missing at least two months of next season.
The loss of a top pairing defensemen leaves the Oilers pretty vulnerable on the blueline. The Oilers would most likely ask for Justin Faulk, but I just don’t see this as a favorable trade on our end. Faulk is under contract until 2020 at under $5 million a year; a great contract for the performance of the Canes’ alternate captain. Eberle, on the other hand, is getting $6 million a year until 2019, when he becomes a UFA.
$6 million isn’t bad for what Eberle brings to the table, but trading for him would only guarantee two years, as he would likely look to cash in after that on his last big contract. I would propose the Canes offer Brett Pesce and a 2017 first round pick. This would replenish the Oilers’ defensive corps with a solid blueliner and afford them some wiggle room in the coming expansion draft.
Ultimately, I see Eberle as a great trade target for the Hurricanes. His current club’s need for defensive help and the Canes’ lack of scoring potential would make him a solid acquisition in Carolina.