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He Said It: Don Waddell on Burns trade, free agency

Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell spoke with members of the media Wednesday afternoon.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell met with members of the media at PNC Arena Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m. to discuss the Brent Burns trade and free agency as a whole.

Then, about two hours later, the Carolina Hurricanes reportedly made another massive trade with Vegas to bring Max Pacioretty to the Canes and also inked forward Ondrej Kase to a one-year deal.

While a lot of what Waddell had to say Wednesday is now a bit outdated with the Pacioretty and Kase additions, he still said some valuable things regarding Burns, the Canes’ RFAs and more.

So, here is everything Waddell had to say Wednesday afternoon prior to the Pacioretty and Kase additions:

Don Waddell

Opening Statement: I don’t know if I really need to make a statement other than we made a trade today. It’s been a busy few days, and it’s going to continue on for the next little while. We had a need to address, and we felt like the absolute best option out there we went after and pursued and closed the deal today.

On if he has an update on Nino Niederreiter: No. I’ve touched base with Nino himself and the agent. But there’s nothing to report.

On if he expects the Canes to make more moves: We are working on multiple deals and players. We still feel like we would like to address the forward spot in particular. We’re seeing what is out there in the free agent market but also exploring trades with multiple teams.

On if the focus is on wing and if he’d be ok with Jesperi Kotkaniemi being the team’s 2C: Yeah, absolutely. It’d be more winger that we feel like the need would be.

On Burns’ durability: I think he’s played every game for six or seven years in a row or something like that. Let’s face it, when you make a trade or sign a free agent you do as much homework as you can. We did that on this player. He’s a fitness guru. I just spoke to him, and he’s already talking about when he can get here to start working out with our guys and Billy [Burniston]. You always look at age, but everybody ages differently. This is a big man that has played a lot of minutes and been very durable through his career. We think he’s got at least three more good years in him as he reaches the age of 40.

On the potential of partnering Burns with Jaccob Slavin: Rod will make that decision, but we have certainly talked about it. I think Pesce and Skjei play very well together, so I think the spot is with Slavin. We think that can be a pretty dynamic pair for us.

On Burns’ energy and leadership: He brings that. That’s not the driving factor of why you make this decision. But Rod and I called him just a while ago, and the excitement that he has just over the phone gets you really excited. He does bring a lot of energy. He’s a very upbeat guy. You talk to all of the players who have played with him and he’s well respected. He’s been a leader on his team for many, many years and is a guy that many people look up to. His personality, he’s a good guy who loves to play hockey and enjoys it. We’re going to find him to be a real good fit here for us.

On Burns waving his no-trade clause: That’s interesting because he was allowed to be traded to three teams, and we were not on that list. So, when San Jose and I started talking, I said the first thing we’ve got to do to save time was find out whether Brent would want to come here. I think their GM, Mike Grier, called me back within minutes and said ‘yes, Carolina is a destination that he would accept a trade to.’

On when the discussions started: It came up this weekend at the draft. I was talking to Mike and saying welcome to the NHL as a general manager, and I asked him what was on his agenda. We started there. We had a lot of conversations over the weekend. We were busy with the draft. It continued on Sunday and Monday and late last night, way past my bed time. It continued on this morning to finally get wrapped up.

On if he ever felt they were close to a deal with Vincent Trocheck: No, I think we got close last summer and then went our different ways. I’m happy for Vincent. He deserves this contract. Obviously going to a competitor is something where we’ll have to deal with him. But he’s been a good player for us for the last three years. I’m happy that he got a contract that he was happy with.

On if it was term or money separating them and Trocheck: You always look at term. That’s a big thing. I think the term wasn’t a big issue for us, but we were probably on the lower end in the dollar amount by a little bit. You see it all the time in this business where players get to a point where they just feel like it’s time to move. Vincent was at that point. I can’t say anything negative about the guy. I really like the guy. He played good for us. He played hard every night. He showed up and played every game that he could. We wish him the best of luck.

On if they are closer to deals with RFAs Ethan Bear and Martin Necas: With neither. Bear has filed for arbitration, so that will get settled one way or another. Nothing new on Necas.

On if their best opportunities right now look like trades as opposed to free agents: Well, there’s a mix. Usually in free agency you get locked up in term longer than you want to get locked up. Players have that right to go to free agency. As we look at our roster and what we have coming in the next few years, we prefer it to be on a shorter basis than sign someone for five, six, seven years. Saying that, if it’s the right player we would do it, of course. But right now it makes sense for us to continue to explore some of the trades that we are talking about.

On if he expects more teams to spend to the cap: By the team it was done, I think last year we had 21 or 22 teams that were at the cap. It might be closer to 25 or 26 by the end of this free agency. Certainly there’s going to be some teams at some point who are getting into a log jam. There’s some guys on IR who help teams out, but the cap only going up $1 million this year creates that. It’s going to force more teams to be closer to the cap.

On if he feels like the team is going to be in a better position than last year when it’s all said and done: I think today we made our team better, for sure. By the time we get through, there’s no doubt in my mind. There’s a couple of things that make us better. Some players that we’re adding, but also the experience that our young players have received the last couple years in the playoff runs. The best way to get experience in the playoffs is to play as many games as you can, so I think we’ve taken those steps. When you add guys like Brent Burns it’s a huge addition to your team. I think since it’s been announced that eight or nine of our current players have texted me saying ‘wow, I can’t believe we got this guy.’ That’s always a positive sign.

On which AHL guys may have a chance to play for the NHL team this year: [Stefan Noesen]’s got a real good chance. We committed $1.3 million to him over two years. We didn’t do that for him to play in Chicago. I think he had 48 goals or so in the regular season and another nine in the playoffs. We think that’s a spot on our team that we have a great spot for. I think he can contribute offensively along with being responsible defensively. That was the reason we stepped up and signed him. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Jack Drury, who had a tremendous year down there. I think he was their second or third leading scorer in the playoffs. He just does it right and plays the way Rod wants him to play. I think for sure he’s got a real good chance at being on our hockey club next year. And then Jalen Chatfield had a tremendous year down there. He’s got some skills that play the style we like to play. He can really skate. He’s got experience. He’s played games. So, we’d be very comfortable if he ends up being on our hockey club, too.

On if they are looking to add another left-shot defenseman: We’re going to continue to look around. On that third pairing we think we’re ok, but if we can upgrade it. At some point the cap is going to get in the way. The cap is 82.5. We can’t spend 90. We can only spend 82.5. You try to prioritize what your biggest needs are before you do some of the feeling because you want to make sure you have enough cap space, and I think in the next couple of days we’ll have a better feel of where we are going with our forwards. We’ll see how much money is left over for that third spot on the left-shot defense.

On prospect Scott Morrow: His progression is very, very good. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t come out after next year. We had a conversation with him at the end of the season, and he and his family thought it’d be best if he stayed in school. We support that. He’s going to get to a point where there’s not much more he can do in college, and he’s going to be ready to take that pro step into hockey.

On Morrow, continued: He’s offensive minded. He moves the puck. He runs the power play. He skates. I see him as more of an offensive guy at the NHL level than a defensive guy. We all know it takes goals to win hockey games, and we’re going to need some guys to get goals on the back end. That’s one of the reasons we got Burns. I think Morrow will be that coming when he’s ready to play here at this level. You’re going to see that.