Coming into the season, the Canes were more than likely not going to be in the market to swing big on a player with the signing of Max Pacioretty, but after the veteran forward reinjured his Achilles just five games into his return, Carolina had to start scouring.
With a bit over $10 million in deadline cap space available according to CapFriendly.com, the Hurricanes can take a stab at just about any player before the March 3, 3 p.m. deadline.
So today, we take a look at the forward market to see what future Hurricanes might be out there and be sure to check back in tomorrow to see the defense market.
Already Traded: Bo Horvat (VAN > NYI), Vladimir Tarasenko (STL > NYR), Ryan O’Reilly (STL > TOR), Tyler Motte (OTT > NYR)
THE BIG FISH
Timo Meier - SJS (RW, Shoots left)
- 26, 6’1”, 220lbs
- 31 goals, 52 points, 57 games played
- Last year of a four year, $6 million AAV contract
The season’s top trade candidate that has every fan of every competitor drooling, Meier has been one of the two consistent bright spots on a San Jose Sharks team that has just been getting worse and worse over the last few years.
Meier is a natural goal scorer, who recently picked up his third 30-goal season in just six full NHL seasons. At 26, the Swiss winger presents a perfect scoring winger to a team looking to upgrade in the goal-scoring department, aka everybody.
On top of being a great scorer, Meier is also a two-way play driver who doesn’t shy away from physicality.
The only concern is that Meier comes with a QO of $10 million. So his next contract will be a sizable one to offset that initial cost for a prospective team, but Meier very much looks like a player that is worth that cost.
The bidding war for Meier will be substantial, but to get a bonafide top-line winger, you have to pay the price. It improves the team both today and into the future and should be a no-brainer so long as an extension can be agreed upon, prior to the acquisition.
Adam Henrique - ANA (C, Shoots left)
- 33, 6’0”, 195lbs
- 19 goals, 33 points, 55 games played
- One additional year of a five-year, $5.825 million AAV contract (M-NTC)
If the Hurricanes are looking to bolster their center depth, then Henrique might be a sneaky good addition. The Anaheim Duck has been a solid two-way center for the majority of his career and has shown an ability to play with some higher-end talent around him.
He’s having a bounce back season, and as an upcoming UFA, there’s no commitment to him long-term.
With the recent emergence of Jesperi Kotkaniemi as of late though, the need for a center might have diminished a bit due to KK’s recent stretch of steady production.
Henrique hasn’t had much playoff experience due to joining both the Devils and Ducks at the tail ends of their competitive windows, but his one big run to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Devils in 2011-12 was memorable.
Nick Schmaltz - ARI (C, Shoots right)
- 26, 6’0”, 177lbs
- 15 goals, 36 points, 41 games played
- Three additional years of a seven year, $5.85 million AAV contract (M-NTC)
Perhaps one of the more under-the-radar players, Schmaltz has had an emergence as a consistent point producer over his last two seasons in the desert. Last season, he had 23 goals and 59 points in just 63 games and this season he’s keeping up a similar pace.
Schmaltz is currently playing an exceptional two-way game in Arizona by analytical standards and he could very much explode given more talent in Carolina. With a cost controlled contract for an additional three years, Schmaltz could be a huge pickup if the price is right being that everyone in Arizona is probably for sale.
Perhaps he’s a piece the Coyotes would want to keep ahold of, but Carolina would not be doing their due diligence if they don’t blow up Bill Armstrong’s phone for the young center.
Stockpiling young talent is how a team gets better, and Schmaltz has all the characteristics that would make him a star in Carolina.
Tyler Bertuzzi - DET (LW, Shoots left)
- 27, 6’1”, 199lbs
- 3 goals, 12 points, 24 games played
- Last year of a two year, $4.75 million AAV contract
Bertuzzi has gotten the spotlight for all the wrong reasons as of late, with injuries, a slow start to the season, but he’s the type of player that would really complement the Hurricanes’ roster.
Last season he scored 30 goals and had 62 points and is a guy who loves to be physical and stir the pot.
He’s the kind of player that Carolina is currently missing on their roster and Rod Brind’Amour would love to have a player like him.
The only question is if Detroit is going to be a seller as they’ve gotten hot recently and don’t sit too far out of the playoff picture.
David Perron - DET (LW, Shoots right)
- 34 age, 6’1”, 196lbs
- 14 goals, 35 points, 55 games played
- One additional year of a two year, $4.75 million AAV contract (M-NTC)
While age is the obvious concern here, especially with an additional year on the contract, Perron has been defying the age curve and putting up exceptional results, especially on the power play an area the Canes would love a little help at.
He’s the type of player that any team would love to have in a depth role and especially with his extensive playoff experience.
He’s gritty, not afraid to get involved and get physical and draws a lot of penalties still.
The only question still is what does Detroit see itself as?
Nick Ritchie - ARI (LW, Shoots left)
- 27, 6’2”, 230lbs
- 9 goals, 21 points, 54 games played
- Last year of a two year, $2.5 million AAV contract
A big-body, physical power forward, Ritchie was a high draft pick who hasn’t really panned out the way many had expected him to, but he goes to the net, especially on the power play, and brings an edge to the lineup.
A concern with him though is if he has the footspeed to play in the Hurricanes’ system.
Nick Bjugstad - ARI (C, Shoots right)
- 30, 6’6”, 215lbs
- 13 goals, 23 points, 57 games played
- Last year of a one year, $900,000 AAV contract
Bjugstad was once a highly regarded player but has swiftly fallen out of favor around the league. However, he’s been having a bit of a bounce back in Arizona. He’s defensively sound, but his offense has dipped tremendously.
Maybe there’s something more there, but he would make an excellent bottom-six depth piece if the Canes want to bolster the lineup.
Max Domi - CHI (C, Shoots left)
- 27, 5’10”, 192lbs
- 15 goals, 42 points, 55 games played
- Last year of a one year, $3 million AAV contract
A little familiarity never hurts, eh?
Domi has gotten the top-line center role in Chicago and while the Blackhawks are awful, Domi has been a steady producer. The Canes know him, he has some edge and you can bury him down the lineup if need be.
Dominik Kubalik - DET (LW, Shoots left)
- 27, 6’2”, 190lbs
- 16 goals, 36 points, 54 games played
- One additional year of a two year, $2.5 million AAV contract
Dominik Kubalik had a great rookie season as a Blackhawk in which he scored 30 goals, but hasn’t hit 20 goals since.
However, after the Blackhawks didn’t qualify him last season because they are a poorly managed team, Detroit picked him up and he’s been solid for the Red Wings.
He’s got a great shot and perhaps there’s more to be unlocked from him.
Evgenii Dadonov - MTL (RW, Shoots left)
- 33, 5’11”, 189lbs
- 4 goals, 17 points, 47 games played
- Last year of a three year, $5 million AAV contract (M-NTC)
The Russian winger had a pretty dramatic trade deadline last season after he was nearly traded to Anaheim, so maybe a more low stress move to a competitor will be better for him.
Dadonov isn’t the player he once was, but he is also much better than his current counting stats show.
He skates well and knows how to get to the areas of the ice where players are successful.
Derick Brassard - OTT (C, Shoots left)
- 35, 6’1”, 202lbs
- 8 goals, 15 points, 44 games played
- Last year of a one year, $750,000 AAV contract
Brassard is on a quest to play for every NHL franchise and so maybe Carolina should add him just for that.
Past that, he’s a depth piece that you only go after if you really need to add a veteran body.
James van Riemsdyk - PHI (LW, Shoots left)
- 33, 6’3”, 208lbs
- 9 goals, 22 points, 37 games played
- Last year of a five year, $7 million AAV contract
JvR is still a bit of an enigma, mostly in the fact that he’s an extremely hot and cold goal scorer. He goes on tears and has that natural scoring ability, but his ability to just disappear completely for long stretches is concerning.
This season has seen JvR be a solid two-way player and while the goals haven’t come, he’s been very reliable on a very bad team.
Nick Bonino - SJS (C, Shoots left)
- 34, 6’1”, 196lbs
- 9 goals, 18 points, 54 games played
- Last year of a two year, $2.05 AAV contract
A veteran forward, Bonino also isn’t what he used to be, but he is certainly a usable depth piece. A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Bonino is that veteran that teams always like to bring in due to their ‘experience.’
He’s got a really solid defensive impact and perhaps there’s a little more offense that can be squeezed out given some more talent.
Ivan Barbashev (C, Shoots left)
- 27, 6’0”, 187lbs
- 10 goals, 28 points, 56 games played
- Last year of a two year, $2.25 million AAV contract
Barbashev is another interesting case in a player who has had some really hot and cold stretches. He’s not very good in his own zone, but he’s a solid play driver and can be an interesting piece that can be moved around the lineup.
Not the main piece you target, but obviously one to keep an eye on.
Jonathan Toews - CHI (C, Shoots left)
- 34, 6’2”, 201lbs
- 14 goals, 28 points, 46 games played
- Last year of an eight year, $10.5 million AAV contract (NMC)
At one time in his career, Toews was the face of the NHL’s most dominant dynasty in the mid 2010’s, but now he comes with a slowing game, injury concerns and a lot of baggage.
After a mystery illness kept him completely out of the 2020-21 season, Toews has been a diminishing asset ever since returning.
The experience and prior success factors might win him some suitors, but he’s just not the type of player you want to be targeting. Maybe if every other well runs dry then maybe you can look into him, but don’t make him your go-to option.
However, recent reports have stated that he will not be traded due to persistent illness issues.
Patrick Kane (RW, Shoots left)
- 34, 5’10”, 177lbs
- 14 goals, 41 points, 52 games played
- Last year of an eight year, $10.5 million AAC contract (NMC)
The other side of the Chicago Blackhawk Dynasty Coin, Kane has been one of the league’s top playmakers for over a decade.
However, time may be catching up with the dynamic winger, that or perhaps one of the weakest supporting casts in the entire NHL, but that’s what interested teams will have to try to determine as the Hawks field calls for Kane.
While the offense is certainly starting to regress, the defense is as bad as it’s ever been. Kane only cares about one section of the ice and has for his whole career.
Teams have to decide if an aging Kane can outperform the defensive anchor that will be attached to him, but as one of the greatest playmakers in the sport, it might be a worthwhile risk, but I’m not too sure if the Canes should be the one to take it.
Jakub Vrana - DET (LW, Shoots left)
- 26, 6’0”, 190lbs
- 1 goals, 2 points, 2 games played
- One additional year of a three year, $5.25 million AAV contract
Vrana has been one of the most efficient goal scorers in the entire league. He’s had troubles with injuries and recently underwent the NHL’s Player Assistance Program, so there’s obviously concerns surrounding him, but he’s a goal scorer and those are not easy to come by.
He’s been getting up to NHL speed in the AHL and has started to find his shot again, but as I’ve stated multiple times, I’m still not yet sure if Detroit will be selling at the deadline.
Brock Boeser - VAN (RW, Shoots right)
- 25, 6’1”, 208lbs
- 10 goals, 36 points, 48 games played
- Two additional years of a three year, $6.65 million AAV contract
There’s a big sale going on in Vancouver and most pieces are available. However, Boeser is costing a lot of money and is only producing at an okay amount.
He’s dealt with hand injuries, personal tragedies and there’s just a miasma that seems to surround most Canucks players.
He’s been a great goal scorer before, but he’s having difficulty putting the puck in the net as of late. Maybe he needs a change of scenery, but only if you can get Vancouver to retain some money.
DARKHORSE (UNLIKELY) CANDIDATES
Dylan Larkin - DET (C, Shoots left)
- 26, 6’1”, 198lbs
- 22 goals, 56 points, 54 games played
- Last year of a five year, $6.1 million AAV contract (NTC)
While I wouldn’t anticipate Steve Yzerman parting with his number one centerman, we’d be remiss to not even mention a pending free agent.
Larkin has been one of the NHL’s top centers this season and he plays that perfect two-way game that teams are always looking for.
Again, doubt he is traded, but you at least have to mention him.
Alex DeBrincat - OTT (RW, shoots right)
- 25, 5’8”, 178lbs
- 19 goals, 48 points, 55 games plates
- Last year of a three year, $6.4 million AAV contract
It’s the same case with DeBrincat, and also if he doesn’t absolutely rinse Ottawa for all they are worth, he’s doing it wrong.
One of the best goal scorers in the league, DeBrincat is worth a lot more than the haul the Senators traded for him, yet Ottawa still don’t seem any closer to competing than they were last season.
Does DeBrincat stay or does he sit out and force a trade? If the Senators are unsure of his future with them, then perhaps the bidding war can net them some good pieces. But don’t hold your breath that they let him go.
Travis Konecny - PHI (RW, Shoots right)
- 25, 5’10”, 175lbs
- 26 goals, 52 points, 51 games played
- Two additional years of a six year, $5.5 million AAV contract
What would it take to get this gem?
A gritty, forechecking and goal scoring machine that can play in all situations. Konecny is a Hurricane in terms of playstyle. He’s everything the team would want in a player and he’s cost controlled.
However, John Torterella loves him and with it looking like he has the most control over the team currently, I wouldn’t anticipate him becoming available despite the Flyers being nowhere near actually competing anytime soon.
Check back in tomorrow for the defense.