Welcome to the offseason. And welcome to trade tiers.
Here, we will go through every member of the Carolina Hurricanes and rate their tradability/likelihood of getting traded over the next few months.
This will be a two-part series, starting today with the bottom of the list - the guys that are less likely (or totally not) getting traded, at least in my eyes.
Part two will be posted tomorrow, and that will be where the real discussions start happening.
Franchise cornerstone, finished tied for sixth in the NHL in goal-scoring during the shortened regular season, almost single-handedly wiped out the New York Rangers in the play-in round. He has four years remaining on his team-friendly contract, thanks to the Montreal Canadiens.
He also stole Anthony DeAngelo’s soul in the third period of Carolina’s three-game sweep of the Rags.
Sebastian Aho. WOOOOW. Enjoy every angle of this highlight-reel goal from Aho, who strips the puck from Trouba and walks DeAngelo for a goal that puts the Hurricanes up 3-1 on the Rangers in game three. pic.twitter.com/YfGH9VeYVm— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) August 5, 2020
His postseason was cut short due to a lower-body injury, but before that happened he became the first player in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history to score a postseason hat trick. The 20-year-old phenom isn’t going anywhere, but he will need a healthy new contract in the next year or so.
Turbo is the perfect first-line complimentary player, which isn’t to take away from his ability to lead the charge on his own when needed. He’s an excellent playmaker with an elite two-way game and he’s on one of the best long-term contracts in hockey.
Hamilton’s Norris Trophy-worthy season was cut short due to a broken leg in January, but he was on pace to record 24 goals and 70 points prior to the injury and put together the best season by a defenseman in the history of the Carolina franchise. His defensive game took massive strides forward as he very quickly earned the full trust of the Hurricanes’ coaching staff in all situations.
The only hold-up is his pending UFA status upon the completion of the 2020-21 season, but he’s just 26 years old and he’ll be a no-brainer recipient of a big contract extension.
I don’t think anyone would argue that Slavin’s performance in the first round against Boston wasn’t underwhelming, but he set career-highs in assists and points while playing in just 68 games during the regular season.
He’s quickly shedding the “underrated” title, and the entire league now knows just how good he is. It doesn’t hurt that he, like Teravainen, is on a fantastic long-term contract with the club. When both players are healthy, he and Hamilton make up one of the best defensive pairings in hockey.
They Literally Just Got Here
Carolina parted with a first-round draft pick to acquire Skjei at the trade deadline, and the results were up-and-down. He has a lot of tools that make him a potentially perfect fit with the Canes over the long haul.
If the Canes were presented with a great deal for a very good forward, could they pull the trigger and send Skjei elsewhere? Potentially, but I think that’s a long shot given how enamored they were with him to get him in the first place. I don’t foresee him exiting any time soon based on those factors, and he will get his first real training camp with the team in November.
The first five games Trocheck had with the team back in March weren’t great, but he was slowly coming along just as play was stopped and he was noticeable in the postseason. The Canes need his goal-scoring touch to come along in 2020-21, but his ability to play in all three zones makes him a real upgrade over Jordan Staal as a top-six center option.
Almost No Shot
The Hurricanes’ captain still has three years left on his mega deal that was signed in 2012 (which includes a full no-movement clause), and while he never panned out as the bonafide second-line center many hoped he would be, he’s an elite defensive player who drives play unlike almost any player in hockey.
His contract makes him very difficult to move, but given how important he is to Rod Brind’Amour and the organization as a whole, it’s almost impossible to imagine the team even trying.
Necas got the same rookie treatment that Svechnikov got, which meant very little in the way of ice time, but he improved his overall game as the season went on and he should be a real top-six forward moving forward. His skill is off the charts, as is his shifty skating ability. There is still work that needs to be done with his defensive game, but that will come in time.
There would have to be a big-time stud player coming the other way for the Hurricanes to consider moving this exciting young forward.
What’s the point?
Martinook is a huge presence in the locker room and when he isn’t on the bench, there is a tangible difference in how the team plays. His voice is important, as is what he brings on the ice when he is healthy.
If you trade Martinook, you likely do so for very little value compared to the intangibles that he brings to the table. He has one year left at $2 million AAV, which is fine for the kind of player that he is. Injuries have been an issue for him, and that’s just the nature of how he plays. He throws his body around with little to no hesitation.
Again, what’s the point?
Maybe, But Probably Not
I think it’s fair to say that there was some regression with Pesce in 2019-20 after his absolutely stellar 2018-19 campaign. There are a lot of factors for that, but perhaps the biggest one was his inconsistent defensive partners.
I never loved Joel Edmundson with him, and their results together varied for much of the season. Jake Gardiner was originally supposed to be his partner for the long term, but that obviously never really happened as Gardiner had a remarkably unfortunate first half and by the time he got it together, Pesce’s season was over due to another shoulder injury.
That, in itself, is another issue. The shoulder injuries are starting to pile up for Pesce, and you have to wonder how it will influence his game moving forward. That said, the same things you could say about Pesce in years past still hold true - he is the modern day shutdown defenseman who can lock down the defensive zone and has the mobility to jump up into the offensive zone and be a factor in all three zones. When he’s at his best, he is constantly pushing the puck up ice and in doing so keeping the puck out of his own end.
There have been plenty of rumors surrounding him over the last few seasons, particularly in connection to bringing in a top-six forward. I don’t think it’s likely that a move of that caliber gets made involving Pesce this offseason, but it won’t stop teams from lusting over his high-end talent and very team-friendly contract. Don Waddell will pick up the phone, but it would take a significant return for him to even consider having the conversation.
Expect him to line up with Skjei next season, as was likely the plan from the get-go.
In nine fewer games played than his rookie season, Foegele doubled his point production. From December 5 to February 22, he had 20 points in 33 games while averaging under 15:00 of ice time per game. He took some real steps forward in his sophomore season, and that was more than a year after Brind’Amour initially referred to him as the perfect Hurricane (paraphrasing).
There are some doubts that I have, though. I’m curious as to what his real ceiling is as an NHLer. I could see him scoring 20 goals. I could also see him regress to a point where he is often times invisible. He’s shown that he is capable of both of those things in his first two seasons.
At points, I’ve described him as a player whose body moves faster than his mind. That’s not a slight at how he thinks the game, though, it’s a testament to just how fast he moves around the ice and how engaged he is physically. Part of me wants him to slow it down a bit and let himself get that extra second to process what’s going on before making a decision with the puck. That has showed itself often in scoring chances where he has rushed himself to put a puck on net, where he would have been better off delaying, settling a puck, and then going for goal.
Do you chalk that up to growing pains of a still very young NHL player?
I don’t have the answers there, but he is beloved by the organization and his teammates. We will learn here soon just how much the team loves him, though, because is a restricted free agent in need of his first post-ELC deal.
I don’t expect there to be much groveling in those contract negotiations, but the fact that he is an RFA keeps the door open on him potentially getting traded.
In 2019-20, we finally saw the long-awaited evolution of the 2014 seventh-overall pick. When injuries hammered the blue line, Fleury came along and filled in very nicely, and as time went on and the postseason was eventually played, he established himself as a real player at this level.
I loved the season he had, and he absolutely is worthy of having a spot in the lineup every single night moving forward. The question now, as it has always been, is will he been given that opportunity?
For the first time, I think the answer is yes. He saw real minutes during the postseason, and that was with everyone but Pesce healthy (or at least healthy enough to play). With Joel Edmundson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Sami Vatanen all slated to hit unrestricted free agency, there is a now a clear opening for Fleury to play and not worry about being yanked out of the lineup at a moment’s notice, not to see the ice again for a week.
The only hold up with him, like Foegele, is his RFA status. I think he will end up getting a one-year deal in the ballpark of $1.5-2 million, and with a full season of sustained playing time, they will come back to it following the 2020-21 season. I doubt that the Canes will be eager to give him a multi-year deal that walks him into UFA status.
I don’t think it’s likely that he gets dealt, by any means.