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Potential Hurricanes Trade Deadline Targets

Will the Canes make moves to push for the playoffs in 2019?

Jamie Kellner

Once again, with the All-Star Break leading directly into the bye week for the Carolina Hurricanes, we thought now would be a good time to get set for what could be a very active trade deadline for the Canes.

While the purpose of this particular piece is more focused on the potential targets that could await the Hurricanes out in the trade market, it is important to note that it is possible — if not probable — that the trade deadline could be met with both comings and goings as the Canes continue to re-shape their roster across the board. While much has been made about Micheal Ferland’s UFA status after this season, and indeed Brett predicted yesterday that he would be dealt, a trade of Ferland would not necessarily signal retreat for this season.

Another rumor that has been floated seemingly all season is that in order to get forward help, the Canes may trade a current defenseman in order to do so. Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, and Dougie Hamilton have all spent their time at the forefront of those rumors, but each remains in a Canes sweater. A deal that includes one or more of those players does not doom Carolina to another lost season, but rather the return garnered will tell us much more about Carolina’s intentions this year, and beyond.

With that in mind, and with acknowledging that the Canes have already made what many would consider a sizable trade in shipping Victor Rask to Minnesota for Nino Niderreiter, let’s look at the trade possibilities from a few different perspectives:

  1. Teams/players that Carolina might be able to deal NHL talent to and get reciprocal NHL talent in return; and
  2. Pending UFA Rentals to acquire
  3. Players with term that could be acquired without NHL talent

Trade Targets Using Current NHL Pieces

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Contract: Signed through 2020-21, AAV $6 million

While the Edmonton Oilers front office may be in disarray with the recent firing of Peter Chiarelli, the Oilers remain in the playoff race, just three points out of a wildcard spot despite a sub-.500 record. With Connor McDavid on the roster and a rabid fanbase to appease, the Oilers are not likely to trade away assets that punt this season. But the Oilers are a team in desperate need of help on defense. While they have shown reluctance to trade away Nugent-Hopkins in the past when Carolina has sniffed around, perhaps they could be more accommodating with a new decision-making process?

A deal would almost certainly have to begin with any of the three right-shot defenseman that have been rumored as available from Carolina. If the trade were to expand beyond that, even including Ferland, the Canes would likely have to add at least a top draft pick that could become capital that could be used in another deal to add forward depth. Edmonton has a pick in the first three rounds each of the next three seasons, so options would be available.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Connor
Contract: ELC currently, RFA after the season

The Winnipeg Jets are certainly a Stanley Cup contender as the Spring nears. Trading a young, controllable player who operates on their top line would seem to be a complete non-starter. But if Don Waddell is going to trade off of his current NHL roster, why not be bold? Connor is a blossoming 22-year-old winger who already has a 31 goal season under his belt, and is well on his way to another this season with 19 goals (as well as 19 assists) to his name through 49 games this season.

In order for the Jets to advance this season, however, one could certainly argue that blueline help and perhaps a bit more toughness up front is a recipe that would give them a better shot. Again, packaging either Faulk or Hamilton with Ferland would allow the Jets to upgrade on the blueline, while adding a supremely capable veteran to the top line to play alongside Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for the stretch run. It is likely that draft picks and/or prospects would have to be added to sweeten the deal, depending on which defenseman was included, but the point is that with NHL assets to trade, the Canes must at least consider bold opportunities such as this which may be available if you ask the right team.

Pending UFAs

You could argue that, in their current position, the Canes might be foolish to pursue expiring contracts in chasing a playoff spot for this season. A Cup run is still highly unlikely for the current group, even with a few timely additions, but you cannot discount the jolt that a postseason bid would have on the young players as well as the fanbase and organization as a whole. With eight picks within the first three rounds of the 2019 and 2020 drafts combined, as well as prospects that could be coveted, the Canes have the ability to add to their NHL roster for either the short-term or somewhat long-term without utilizing NHL talent if they choose to.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist
Contract: $4.75 million, UFA after season

Nyquist is a name that is likely to be tossed around by nearly every contending NHL team over the coming weeks. His 43 points in 51 games this season on a Red Wings team that has settled near the basement of the Atlantic Division have him circled as a highly-likely trade chip for the rebuilding Wings.

Nyquist does have a no-trade clause that would have to be waived for any move, which may limit access to him for several teams, including the Canes. But with a first-round pick to dangle in front of the Wings and more (a pick that their front office would certainly value over the same offer from a team such as the Lightning, Flames, or any other top contender), Carolina could at least get the Wings to check in with Nyquist to see if he was willing to spend the rest of the season chasing a playoff spot in Raleigh.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Dzingel/Mark Stone
Contracts: Dzingel - $1.8 million, Stone - $7.35 million; Both UFA after season

With the Ottawa Senators waist-deep in their rebuild, and with some arena and franchise uncertainty in the Canadian Capital, the Sens will likely be looking to boost their build by dealing away one or more of their pending UFAs. While it looks increasingly likely that Matt Duchene will be retained at a top-dollar price, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Stone could be the trade chips that get played by GM Pierre Dorion.

While both are pending UFAs, Stone’s salary (even with less than a half-season remaining) is a possible issue for cap-strapped contenders to deal with, making Dzingel’s bargain deal highly appealing for all teams, but especially the high payroll contenders seeking one final top-9 forward piece. Stone is the player with the longer track record of success, posting two 60+ point seasons, and well on his way to another with a greater than a point-per-game average this season. The Sens will most certainly be looking to recoup the first-round pick in this coming year’s draft for at least one of these players, and perhaps a prospect as well for Stone, based on his status a potentially the top offensive weapon available in the rental market.

Neither player is inhibited by a no-trade clause, meaning they are likely to be had by the highest bidder. With no cap restrictions and a wealth of pick and prospects, this can be Carolina if they decide to jump in with both feet. But the acquisition of multiple rentals would seem unlikely for the Canes with a playoff bid far from a foregone conclusion.

NHL: New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Hayes
Contract: $5.175 million, UFA after season

While the New York Rangers are not too far behind the Hurricanes, the Rangers committed just last season to a quick rebuild that was supposed to see them turn back into potential contenders within three years or so, not immediately. As such, a pending UFA in Kevin Hayes would seem to be more valuable to the Rangers in terms of what he could deliver on the trade market, not on the ice over the final 30+ games of the season.

While it could be argued that Hayes may not be a top-six quality forward, he would unquestionably add true scoring depth to any roster he joins, as well as serious size with his 6-foot-5 frame. The Rangers would assuredly want a first-round pick for Hayes, and potentially more. Despite his solid season to date, and the size he would add, I am not sure the Hurricanes would be wise offering anything further than a pick or two, which could leave them with something less than the best offer for the big New Englander.

Other potential rentals

  • Derick Brassard - Intra-division, has been a big disappointment in Pittsburgh
  • Thomas Vanek - Definitely will be traded from Detroit, but inconsistent and older. Wouldn’t seem to fit the Canes current structure.
  • Wayne Simmonds - Intra-division as well, but is an intruging player to add some beef. Would seem to be in higher demand for top-end contenders.
  • Jakob Silfverberg - Slow season in Anaheim, but a quality track record. Could be a secondary option if all other fail to materialize.

Players with term

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Carter
Contract: $5,272,727 per season, signed through 2021-2022

Jeff Carter remains an intriguing player, even as he recently celebrated his 34th birthday earlier this month. Despite a slow season (25 points in 49 games) and coming off of an injury-plague season a year ago, Carter could still have value for a team that is willing/able to take on his contract in search of top-six scoring potential. With the Kings going nowhere out west, and the Jake Muzzin trade to Toronto likely to be only the first escape from LA of the season, now would seem to be the best time to check in on the market for Carter.

While his attitude and performance has been mercurial in the past - Blue Jackets fans are furiously shaking their heads at this point - perhaps his relationship with fellow Stanley Cup Champion Justin Williams would lend him to viewing Carolina as a quality landing spot to play out most, if not all, of his remaining contract. The magic word “first-round pick” will obviously be a must for the Kings, but a prospect or two would likely be needed to close a deal. The Kings did just net a 2019 first-rounder from the Maple Leafs for Muzzin, so perhaps a future pick would be in order as part of a Carter deal. If the Canes are willing and able to take on salary, another veteran might be a good option to add scoring to an inconsistent lineup.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Toffoli
Contract: $4.6 million AAV, UFA after 2019-2020

An in-his-prime former 30-goal scorer who has one year of term remaining at a good (not great) salary, playing on a team increasingly headed towards a full rebuild. That sounds like the kind of player that the Canes should be targeting, no? While there has not been much discussion regarding dealing Toffoli, you would have to imagine the Kings will continue to be open for business if the right offer comes along. They certainly have more pressing deals to make with some pending UFAs (Carl Hagelin) and players they may be looking to unload (see Carter, above), but Toffoli is the type of player that could garner a real return, and could be a real piece for a team that acquires him.

Toffoli has slumped this season, posting only 20 points and eight goals in 50 games, but offense across the board has suffered in LA, as the Kings rank dead-last in offense. Surely that team-wide talent disparity must be coloring the performance of Toffoli as well as a few other Kings teammates that would otherwise have a more solid contribution in the points column? Any team looking to pry away Toffoli might have to part with multiple picks (perhaps only one first-rounder) and a prospect to start the conversation. Would Carolina be willing to bet on a Toffoli turnaround?

Some Unlikely Targets

There is bound to be an abundance of talk about a number of highly-intriguing players and possibilities that will likely never come to fruition. Below are a few tantalizing candidates that are exceedingly unlikely to end up in Carolina or, in some cases, be traded at all.

  • Sergei Bobrovsky/Artemi Panarin - Bobrovsky has a no-movement clause, but has stated a desire to leave Columbus. It would be difficult to imagine the Blue Jackets dealing him within the Metro, especially to a team chasing them currently, or for the Canes and Jackets to be able to find common ground on trade terms. Panarin is a high-end offensive player, but seems unlikely to re-sign with Columbus. Would they even entertain the Canes on a possible deal? If he were dealt, it would seem more likely to be to a Western Conference contender.
  • Jonathan Quick - Lots of terms remaining, and a spotty recent injury history. For Carolina, it would be a chance to jump into the deep end in their attempt to solve their goal-tending issues for the next several seasons. Deals like this typically are offseason deals though, and Quick is probably the face of the current Kings, for better or worse.
  • Eric Staal - Would a reunion even be welcomed? Staal has been very productive in Minnesota, and perhaps a return to Raleigh could now be beneficial to both. A true third-line Center would add real depth to the roster and familiarity would likely be an added bonus. But it does feel like it is possibly too early for this to occur, and the Canes are unlikely to meet any sort of higher price tag.