To say that this summer could be a monumental offseason for the Carolina Hurricanes would be an understatement. The team will be fresh off its first season (half season, really) with a new owner eager to make his impression on the team, and now the team will enter the summer with a new general manager.
Ron Francis’ sudden “reassignment” may come as a shock, but the team must quickly readjust in order to have the new general manager situated for the 2018 offseason. With free agency and the NHL Draft on the horizon, the team must find a suitable replacement that can provide value for the 2018-19 season and beyond.
Here are some names that stand out as possible replacements for Francis as Tom Dundon and Don Waddell start the process of hiring the Canes’ third general manager since relocation:
BriseBois, assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, seems like a logical choice to replace Francis. At 41 years old, BriseBois could be a long term solution for the Hurricanes and could mold this team for years. Although he is young, BriseBois already has 14 years of experience in an NHL front office, spending six seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and the past eight seasons with the Lightning.
With Steve Yzerman at the helm, it doesn’t seem likely BriseBois will get a promotion in the near future, although he’s on a lucrative contract as Yzerman’s number-two. The Lightning are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders due to their ability to pull the trigger on the big trade while also drafting well and keeping an eye to analytics.
Seems like a match made in heaven, as long as his contract doesn’t prove to be a stumbling block. Just about every GM search in the past few years has included BriseBois, and the Canes’ should as well.
If a veteran is what the Hurricanes seek, look no further than Dean Lombardi. The 60-year-old is currently serving his first season as senior advisor for the Philadelphia Flyers. Lombardi’s 28-season career dates back to the 1988-89 season in which he served as assistant general manager of the Minnesota North Stars. Lombardi’s career has spanned from many different forms of hockey. Enforcers have gone extinct, youth has surpassed age and the league is now at its peak in terms of financial stability. All in all, Lombardi can adapt to many situations.
Lombardi won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings where he served as general manager. He has the tendency to sign a bad contract every now and then (see: Dustin Brown) but consistently shapes his franchise into a team that can compete every season.
It’s not happening. We wish, but it’s not happening.
It may be tough to pry him away from the Nashville Predators, but Paul Fenton would be a great fit for the team in the neighboring state. Fenton, who had a journeyman career and has served 24 years in NHL front offices, got his start as a scout for the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and eventually made his way to Nashville to serve as director of player personnel. He has been in the role of assistant general manager for the last 12 seasons.
Fenton has learned and grown with David Poile, who makes prudent, smart and calculated moves - and also takes risks, trading for the likes of Ryan Johansen, P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris. Nashville’s strength is on defense and Fenton would be able to surround Carolina’s strong young core on defense with additional complimentary players. He’d be able to deal from a position of strength, similar to how Nashville did, as the Hurricanes have a cupboard full of prospects. Frankly, Fenton would feel right at home.
It remains to be seen whom Tom Dundon will name as Francis’ replacement, and it may take until the Canes wrap up their season in April. Whoever it may be, they must be ready to work with a young, eager and hands-on owner ready to take his team to the top.