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Carolina Hurricanes Trade Targets: Forwards

Will this be the year where the Hurricanes finally make a big splash for a big-name forward?

Carolina Hurricanes v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The offseason is underway for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are already being thrust into the trade rumor talk surrounding the bigger-name forwards on the market.

Will this be the year where they do make that big trade for a big-name forward in exchange for a top-four defenseman?

And if not, how many more decades will this be a big topic of discussion? Two? Seven?

So many questions. Today, we will be answering none of those questions. Instead, we will speculate some more.

Here are some of the most interesting names on the trade market, a list of players that the Hurricanes could pursue.

Max Domi

Domi’s second year in Montreal featured a great deal of turbulence.

Upon arriving to the Habs via trade from the Arizona Coyotes following the 2017-18 season, Domi logged career highs 28 goals, 44 assists, and 72 points. He blossomed into a bonafide top-line forward and showed a great deal of promise as a 24-year-old.

Year two saw him take a few steps back. He dropped to just 17 goals and 44 total points ahead of his scheduled RFA status this offseason. His ice time dropped to just 14:21 during the 2020 postseason. Now, the question is how his contract situation will play out.

He made news last week when he hired a new agent in Darren Ferris. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said that he doesn’t know where this situation is going, but to this point, he has not asked for a trade.

If the Habs do end up shopping him, which seems well within the real of possibility, it will be interesting to see if the Canes have interest. Even if they do, will last year’s Sebastian Aho offer sheet fiasco make it so they don’t even pursue a deal with Marc Bergevin?

Kyle Palmieri

Palmieri’s name was tossed around at the trade deadline earlier this year as the rebuilding New Jersey Devils continue to stock up for the future. Now, the veteran forward has just one year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4.65 million.

The 29-year-old New York native has netted 24+ goals in each of his last five seasons since joining the Devils in 2015, despite running into some injury trouble over the past few seasons.

If New Jersey chooses to part ways with him, the Hurricanes should be a logical fit. Their need for a top-six forward and his ability to put the puck in the back of the net with such consistency will make him a tempting player. The hold up here is the potential cost. He has just one year left on his contract before hitting unrestricted free agency, so a team like Carolina that puts so much value on cost control could have trouble reaching fair value for New Jersey.

William Nylander

Another year, another trip through the rumor mill for Nylander.

The Swedish winger had a great year, scoring 31 goals in the shortened season, but after the Leafs’ most recent playoff disaster, it feels like someone is going to have to fall on the sword.

Nylander is on a sub-$7 million AAV deal through 2024, so there’s a lot of value in his contract, which means that the Hurricanes are going to have to part ways with a legitimate blue line piece to get Kyle Dubas interested. That’s where a guy like Brett Pesce comes into play.

Is it worth it for the Hurricanes? Pesce is on such a steal of a contract and he is a massive part of what Carolina does, but if the Canes have a chance to acquire a sure-fire top-line caliber forward, would they pull the trigger?

If/when it doesn’t happen this offseason, tune back in next offseason when everyone will be asking that question yet again.

Josh Anderson

This is a buy-low option among a group of bigger names.

Anderson is a big power forward who is a year removed from a 27-goal campaign with the Blue Jackets. Contract disputes led to him waiting around for a new deal, before ultimately settling on one year and $1.85 million. He followed up his breakout year with one goal in 27 games.

He’s an RFA yet again, which means decision time is on the horizon again for the Jackets, and there’s no reason to think that they will play ball again. This isn’t a top-six forward, but if the Hurricanes want to buy low on a bottom-six forward who could rebound and maybe get closer to the 20-goal mark, Anderson is a guy that could be an interesting fit.

He’s physical and aggressive, making him a potentially impactful depth piece. They’ll have to figure out a contract for him, though, which won’t be as difficult as last year, but it’s still an obstacle.

Nikolaj Ehlers

The Danish forward has been a trade rumor magnet for much of the last couple of seasons given Winnipeg’s firepower up front and their desperate need for defensive help.

Ehlers has breakout star potential written all over him. He’s been pushed down to the point of being an odd-man out in many instances for the Jets, based solely on their top-of-the-lineup forward crop.

The Hurricanes are no stranger to the Ehlers rumor mill, either, and if Ehlers does get shopped this offseason, the Canes will be in the discussions like they always are.

He’d be a great fit in the Canes’ top-six thanks to his eye-popping skill and skating ability. Whether it’s with Sebastian Aho on the first line or alongside Vincent Trocheck to round out the top-six, Ehlers would bring a lot of offensive consistency to the Hurricanes.

Again, though, you’re talking about parting with a really good defenseman in this kind of trade, unless a guy like Jake Bean gets the Jets to start talking, which I doubt given his lack of proven NHL play.

Patrik Laine

Saving the best for last, let’s talk about Laine.

With 138 goals in 305 NHL games, the Finnish winger is one of the most prolific young goal-scorers in all of hockey. He can finish with the best of them in the NHL, and he can do it in an assortment of different ways, be it on the rush, going to the front of the net, releasing seemingly low-danger shots that end up finding the perfect spot on net, or his dangerous one-time shot on the man advantage.

He is obviously the best bet among potential trade candidates, and if he does get moved, it will be because of contract uncertainty.

The team that acquires him will only have one year left on his deal before he becomes an RFA again after 2020-21, and he should be the recipient of a big-time extension that will he make him perhaps the highest-paid player on the team.

He could be worth every cent of that deal, though. He’s an elite player who can change any given game he is playing in. What makes it tough for the Hurricanes, though, is that Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov will be in line to get massive contracts for themselves after the 2020-21 season.

Laine makes a lot of sense for the Canes, who are a game-breaking forward away from being legitimate contenders, but with the cost of acquisition being as high as it is, coupled with his impending pay day, will it even be a possibility?