Ron Francis made his first trade splash of the offseason on Thursday, acquiring defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was drafted by Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.
The move cost Carolina a late second-round pick in 2017, which was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline.
The New Jersey-born blueliner fills a big hole on Carolina’s third defensive pairing. Last season featured a rotating mixture of Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy, Matt Tennyson and Klas Dahlbeck. With Hanifin moving into the top-four next season on a regular basis and the likes of Murphy and Tennyson likely on the way out, the Hurricanes needed a reliable option for the third pairing, and van Riemsdyk is a good fit.
In a largely sheltered role last season, the soon-to-be 26-year-old posted a 50.4% corsi rating and a 60.71% goals for percentage. He averaged 18:25 of ice time per night in Chicago, skating a season-high of 25:41 against the Colorado Avalanche on March 19.
Throwing him into the defense adds stability and could lead to the likes of Jake Bean or Haydn Fleury having a reliable defensive partner this season. They won’t fall victim to the same fate that Noah Hanifin had, playing with a rotating door of inconsistent partners.
The question now is if Carolina flips another defenseman for help up front, but reports suggest that won’t be happening.
Subject to change, of course, but Hurricanes don't plan on trading any of their top 7 D, want to use picks/prospects to upgrade at forward— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 22, 2017
While van Riemsdyk has performed very well in a third-pairing role, trading a player like Justin Faulk or Brett Pesce would create another hole in Carolina’s top-four, a hole which van Riemsdyk would be over slotted in.
Comparing him to an average third-pairing defender, he lines up well above average. The numbers do only paint half of the picture, though, due to his sheltered role in Chicago.
Playing in the correct role, van Riemsdyk can be a very effective player, but he is by no means on par with Carolina’s assortment of proven top-four defensemen. He does, however, give the Hurricanes a third good right-shot blueliner to add to the mix.
Ron Francis made defensive depth a priority this offseason, and this trade certainly helps things. A top-six of Slavin, Pesce, Hanifin, Faulk, van Riemsdyk and any of Fleury, Bean, or another acquisition is step up for one of the league’s best young blue lines.