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Don Waddell on draft, free agency, trades, more

The Hurricanes’ general manager spoke to the media following the sixth round of the 2020 NHL Draft.

2020 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Rebecca Fiorentino/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s been a busy week so far for general manager Don Waddell and the Carolina Hurricanes, and it’s not about to slow down anytime soon. After taking Seth Jarvis with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the draft Tuesday night, the Canes made six picks on day two Wednesday. The team also qualified eight potential restricted free agents, including forward Warren Foegele and defenseman Haydn Fleury.

The week won’t slow down anytime soon either, with free agency opening Friday at noon. Waddell spoke to the media after the Canes made their sixth-round pick to discuss the draft and what lies ahead as the offseason continues, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:

On the draft: We had some opportunities early on to trade out of our pick, but every time we got to our pick, we really liked the next player on our list, so we stuck with our list. When you’re in these drafts, your scouts do the whole year and you come up with a list. You’ve got guys you really like there. You want to stay on your list and pick those players. So we felt good about all the picks we made, including the one we just made now in the sixth round. We still have two more picks in the seventh round.

On the lengthened draft day two: It’s been a long day. One of the GMs put out a text that once this draft’s over, some of these players will be retired. It’s been a long day. We’ve got a couple more picks to go. But this is our job. This is what we live for. This is what our scouts have worked for all year, so whether it takes four hours or 10 hours, we’re going to stay here and be prepared to make the next selection when we’re due up.

On the trade down in the fifth round: We felt we were going to get the same player we took at 159 at 140 and anytime you can add another pick for next year’s draft, it’s putting assets in the bank. So we still got the same player. When you get toward the end of the draft there, everybody’s got different lists. It’s different when you’re in the first round and the start of the second round, but when you get late in the draft, everybody likes players differently. So we felt like we were going to get the same player, which we did. And we picked up an asset for next year’s draft. As you know, between now and next year’s draft, sometimes you have to use those assets to make trades, and it’s nice to have them in the bank right now.

On if he considered any trades today: There was very little hockey talk as far as hockey trades. I think the circumstances right now, there’s a lot of teams that had to make decisions on qualifying players. That list will come out soon, who didn’t get qualified. And then with free agency starting so quickly here, I think the next few days are going to be busy. I think free agency starts and people realize they didn’t get what they needed in free agency, I think you’ll see more trades made post free agency than in previous years.

On adding a young goalie after not qualifying Callum Booth: We’re looking at it right now. We’ve got two picks in the seventh round. We’ve got our goalie guy on the phone with us as we speak here, talking about the goalies that are available there. If there’s one that we like, then we certainly are not afraid to step up and take him at this point.

On going forward heavy: Every time we got to our pick, we really liked the forwards. That’s why we made the decision. We had a lot of picks last year, a lot of picks this year, we already have extra picks for next year. So it’s different every year. There were more forwards, we felt, at a high end, where we were picking then there was on defense. Remember, these guys that we’re drafting are years away. Our first rounder, [Seth Jarvis], is obviously the closest right now. But these other guys are three, four years away. So by that time, who knows what your needs are for your hockey club.

On going into next season with Petr Mrazek and James Reimer in net: We’re happy with the tandem we had. But I’ve said multiple times, my job as a general manager, if we can upgrade any position, we have to look at it. If, at the end of the day, we stay with Petr and Reimer, we’re perfectly good with that. If there’s an opportunity to upgrade, then we’ve got to look at it. You’ve got to look at what the cost is. Remember, the salary cap’s flat this year. We don’t have a lot of money under the cap to spend, so we’ve got to spend it wisely.

On being active at the opening of free agency: I think it’s going to be slow for free agency right off the bat. All the talk has been about term. Obviously there’s some big guys out there. They’ll go day one or so, but I really think free agency’s going to play out over the next four or five days, not the first 48 hours like it usually does. Term, to me, is what you’ve got to be careful of because of the cap being flat the next few years. We all know we’ve got [Andrei Svechnikov] to get signed for next year. We’ve got Dougie Hamilton that’s up after this year. So we’ve got to make sure we keep our resources. We like these players, we want to make sure we can keep our team together as much as we can. We’ve got to be careful with what we tie ourselves to long term.

On a timetable for potential new deals for Haydn Fleury and Warren Foegele: That’s probably a better question for their agents. We’re talking to them every day, and we’re hoping the sooner the better. That way we really lock in on what our numbers are for those guys. That would tell us how much money we have to spend for free agents if we choose to go that route, or trades, so we’d like to get it done as soon as possible. Hopefully that’s over the next few days.