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Point/Counterpoint: The case for trading Micheal Ferland

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The Canes are going to have to make a hard decision in the coming weeks, and trade a fan-favorite, goal-scoring forward for the second time in a few months. But it’s the right call.

Jamie Kellner

For the past two days, Canes Country senior writers Brett Finger and Andrew Schnittker have been making cases for and against the Hurricanes signing pending unrestricted free agent Micheal Ferland to a contract extension.

Today, Andrew will discuss the situation from the “trade the man” point-of-view.

Well, everyone knows what this is about. Yesterday, Brett gave the first part of this point-counterpoint argument that the Hurricanes should sign Micheal Ferland to a long-term extension. Today, I’m going to present the argument for trading him.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Sports, are most of the time, fun. They create memories that can last a lifetime and forge bonds between fans and players. Other times, they suck. Sports are a business, and hard decisions have to be made. This is one of those times.

Ferland has been a great fit for the Canes this year. He’s brought needed physicality, developed chemistry with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and is second on the team with 13 goals in 39 games.

He’s also a pending unrestricted free agent, and the Hurricanes cannot, and should not, pay him what he would make on the open market. Let’s make the baseline for this the six-year, $5.16 million that Tom Wilson got from the Capitals last summer.

While Wilson has never hit 20 goals in a season, that’s a good baseline for a power forward. We’ll bump up the dollars a bit and drop a year, making it five years by $6 million.

Let’s take a look at why the Canes shouldn’t do that, and why they can’t.

Shouldn’t

Giving power forwards big money on longer-term deals is a bad idea. The style they play leads them to break down and become injury-prone more quickly. Ferland has already battled a concussion this season, and as he goes forward, he’ll be more at risk for other health problems.

The Canes know this all too well, having faced this exact conundrum at the 2012 deadline with former fan favorite Tuomo Ruutu. With Ruutu’s contract nearly up, Jim Rutherford gave him a four-year deal worth $4.75 million per year. Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to a $5.875 million AAV today.

Ruutu then played just 17 of 48 games in the lockout-shortened season due to a hip injury and was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the next season’s trade deadline.

While, as Brett pointed out, Ruutu had more mileage at this point, Ferland is also likely looking at more than four years, so the risk remains.

I’m also not sure Ferland is worth that money and term. Before playing with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau last year, and Aho and Teravainen this year, Ferland never hit 20 goals.

While there’s nothing wrong with a player who can play with your stars, and in fact, it’s a good thing to have, wouldn’t you rather pay the big money for a player who’s a little more versatile that you can shift around if needed? Ferland hasn’t really produced with anyone else in the Canes’ forward lineup.

What if Carolina eventually wants to play Andrei Svechnikov with the Finns, but has Ferland on a big deal and that’s the only spot he produces in? Speaking of which…

Can’t

Ferland is obviously not the only big deal the Canes are looking at. Aho and Teravainen are about to be restricted free agents. Aho is the team’s number one center and best player, and has been among the top-20 scorers in the league this year.

He’ll get a hefty raise, as will Teravainen as he looks likely to set another career high scoring wise. Those two are going to cost at least $14 million combined, a hefty bump from the under $4 million they’re getting now.

As time went along on a potential Ferland five-six year deal, more contracts will come up. In two more years after this summer, the team is going to have to pay Andrei Svechnikov. Even if his ELC slides this year, Martin Necas would be up in another three. Neither of those would likely be cheap.

Also two years into a Ferland deal, the Canes would have to either resign Dougie Hamilton (if he isn’t traded), or find another top-four offensive defenseman.

And oh, by the way, they’re going to need to figure out the whole goalie thing at some point, with Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek’s deals both up this year (and neither looks like a viable long-term starter).

All of a sudden, the notion that the Canes have plenty of room to give Ferland a long-term deal is looking less and less true.

Trade the man

So, with both of those things in mind, the Canes are going to have to trade Ferland. They are not in a position to lose a player like that for nothing. Even if the team could sneak into the playoffs, advancing against a team like Tampa Bay or Washington is unlikely. The long-term goal should be to build a team that can contend for the Stanley Cup.

That means maximizing your assets. With Elliotte Friedman, reporting that at least four teams are interested in Ferland, it’s plausible the Canes could get a first-round pick for him. While it would be a late first rounder, it would beat losing Ferland for nothing just to miss the playoffs or lose in the first round.

And on top of all that, Cory Lavalette says that the ask from the Ferland camp isn’t Tom Wilson money, but Evander Kane.

What does Evander Kane’s contract look like? Oh, right: seven years, $49 million. There is not a galaxy known to science in which Micheal Ferland would get a $7 million AAV contract, regardless of length.

So, make something of a bad situation. The Canes could make that (presumably late first-round) pick, or use it to get goal-scoring help in the offseason (this is what I would do).

At the end of the day, NHL front offices have to make tough decisions. Tom Dundon, Don Waddell and the Hurricanes’ braintrust are currently facing one. With all the information in front of them, that decision needs to be to make the difficult and unpopular, but correct, decision to trade Micheal Ferland to the highest bidder ahead of the NHL’s Feb 25 trade deadline.