With the news of the return of Justin Williams fresh in our minds, now is a good opportunity to take a look at the trade deadline possibilities for the Carolina Hurricanes as we approach six weeks from the deadline day (February 24th). The Canes seemingly added some needed forward depth by bringing Williams back, as you have to anticipate possible injuries as the bruising season winds to a close. Where else might the Canes look to improve? Can they make a move that could shake up their goaltending situation? Is there a trade that would subtract from the current NHL roster substantially in the interest of adding elsewhere?
With six weeks remaining until the deadline, a lot can change that will alter the outlook of not only the Canes, but the rest of the league as well. We will look at the options based off of position groups (Forwards, Defensemen, and Goalies). Something we haven’t said often in these parts is that the Canes will have to maneuver around their salary cap situation, as they currently sit with just under $1.2 million in projected cap space.
Contract: One-year, $5 million
Signed to a one-year deal in New Jersey, Simmonds has admittedly been a disappointment for the Devils. His 15 points in 42 contests have been a factor in the struggles for the Devils as they plummeted to the basement of the Metropolitan Division, leading to their decision to trade away Taylor Hall.
Trading for Simmonds would not be a big improvement for Carolina, but it would cover an important area of need for the Canes. Erik Haula has been a substantial part of the improved power play, in particular due to his dogged net front presence. His ability to provide screens and corral rebounds has been integral in Andrei Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton and others beginning to excel on the man advantage.
However. Haula has been an iffy proposition health-wise for much of the season. Having a legitimate replacement for that important role on the power play would make a simple move for Simmonds worth it for the Canes. He could add some size to the bottom-six, and shouldn’t require many pieces to acquire him.
Contract: Signed thru 2019-20, $4.6 million
If the Canes are seeking to add to truly add to their offensive firepower, Tyler Toffoli may be their best option. A rental option just like Simmonds, Toffoli would fit more in a top-six forward role and would provide a right hand shot that is somewhat lacking from the Canes forward group at the moment. Acquiring him would likely require a combo of some sort of NHL salary offloading and draft picks.
A move for Toffoli would also likely not be a singular move by the team. Due to the nature of what his acquisition would mean, it would likely be one of a series of deals that restructures the roster in some fashion. Perhaps the Kings would have interest in a defenseman such as Jake Gardiner for a longer term? That would obviously then open up a hole in defensive depth, which makes this move seem less likely.
Contract: Signed thru 2020-21 at $2.6 million per year, then RFA
Ondrej Kase was a name that was mentioned multiple times in camp as the Canes looked to deal away Justin Faulk. Kase has shown a mix of skill and speed in his career, but has also struggled to stay on the ice due to injury. Kase has not mixed well with the new coaching staff in Anaheim this season, notching just 15 points in 37 games. One would think the asking price for the young forward has come down slightly, and the Canes must be intrigued as to what a change in playing style may do for the young Czech.
If he were to join the Canes, Kase would likely find himself in a third line role, again providing that additional right handed shot for the Canes. If a deal can be found that does require too much handling with the cap or involve a draft pick better than a second or third rounder (Carolina has two picks in each of those rounds in 2020), this is something that could make sense for both teams.
Jason Zucker, Melker Karlsson, and Vladislav Namestnikov
Contract: Signed thru 2019-20, $4.875 million
Currently, the Canes would not appear to have a strong need on defense. While Jake Gardiner has not paid the dividends that the Canes were hoping after his offseason signing, it would seem difficult to move him around the deadline, and if that were to occur, it could simply be opening a slot for an improved Haydn Fleury. Depth might be required in that case, but Sami Vatanen is not the caliber of player who could spend some nights in the press box.
If the Canes were to use NHL-level defensemen in a search for either forwards or goaltending, Vatanen would be an interesting player for the Canes to consider as they look to replenish. A rental, Vatanen would bring solid speed and offensive production to the blueline as a right-handed shot. He could work on a second power play unit, and slot in nicely as the right-handed shot on most any pairing. The need might not be obvious currently, but if it appears Vatanen would be an excellent choice.
Contract: Signed thru 2019-20, $5.375 million with a Modified No Trade Clause
If the Canes are in the market for a veteran to provide depth on the blueline, Mike Green might be a name that begins to pop up. Whether a trade to Carolina could even happen might depend on the 34-year-old’s willingness to accept a trade, as he holds a modified NTC.
While Green is certainly nothing like the 70+ point dynamo he was in Washington a decade ago, the veteran would be able to provide some leadership, as well as a steady hand on the second power play unit. He would likely be just a depth addition, perhaps seeing some scratches and also serving as an experienced third pairing option. This is certainly not a move that would provide much excitement, but it could be something that is considered if the deadline ends up being a bit quieter for the Canes.
Alec Martinez, Erik Gustafsson
Contract: Signed thru 2019-20, $6 million with a Modified No Trade/Move Clause
If the Canes surmise that they are unable to move forward with Petr Mrazek and James Reimer as the netminding tandem as they drive towards to playoffs, the market has appeared to dry up rather quickly for other options. One pedigreed option that could be available is Corey Crawford. With the Blackhawks appearing to be on just the fringes of the playoff race currently, Crawford would present a possible option for a former Stanley Cup-winning goalie that could perhaps be a starting goalie for a playoff team.
With Robin Lehner appearing to be the present and future in Chicago, Crawford has performed admirably in 21 starts, posting a .906 save percentage but a goals against average over three (3.09).
Crawford might jump at an opportunity to backstop a playoff contender as he searches for a home for next season. If the Canes look to make a move that is strictly for this season, Crawford would seem to be the best currently available option.
Contract: Signed thru 2020-21, $4.33 million per year with a Modified No Trade Clause
Despite what has been a subpar season from the 33-year-old Dubnyk, he still may represent a reasonable “buy low” option if the Canes look to resolve their near-term goalie situation. Signed for 2020-21 as well, a trade for Dubnyk is a move that shows belief in a five-year run between 2014-15 and 2018-19 that saw him post a cumulative .920 save percentage, 2.35 goals against and 23 shutouts, as opposed to the ragged 2019-20 campaign. In 19 starts this season he has a sub .900 save percentage (.898). While the market certainly is not hot for Dubnyk, he could be an under-the-radar option of Minnesota decides that it wants to move forward with a rebuild sooner rather than later.
For Carolina, a move for any goalie would certainly mean at least one of the current netminders would be shipped elsewhere. Whether that could happen in the same trade remains to be seen, but expect that General Manager Don Waddell will at least kick the tires to see what is available in net.