Now that we went down the doom and gloom road for a quick second, lets look at the possibilities that remain.
To get a lay of the land:
845k of cap space with 23 roster players.
We have 39/50 contracts signed
We have 7 teams over the cap currently to include Toronto and Pittsburgh who are 2 million plus over.
We have 4 other teams with under 1 million in space (Seattle, Ottawa, LA and St Louis).
We have 4 teams who are going to have very little cap space when their RFAs are signed (Minnesota, NYR, Boston, and Edmonton).
We have 3 teams who will have under 2 million after their RFAs are signed (Winnipeg, NJ, Columbus).
Long story short we will have 10 other teams that could afford one of roster defenders in a trade without sending money back and but most possible moves will need to be some sort of money in, money out move for both parties.
Zegras and Terry: Anaheim will have to be told that a player isnt interested in returning for either to be traded. They have 27 million in cap space
Patrick Kane: Abysmal defense the last 4-5 years it feels like. He is still the best American playmaker ever. Isnt signing until November
Tomas Tatar: we had interest prior to him signing in NJ. He is a regular season advanced stat darling who can score. Has been a ghost in the playoffs his entire career.
LaFreniere: Rangers have some cap issues. He is physical. He has underperformed his 1OA pick so far. Still plenty of potential.
Parise: 38 but still scored over 20 for the Isles last season. Didnt have good defensive metrics despite playing for the Isles. Really slowing down.
Kessel: only played 4 playoff games this year. The guy is one of the worst defensive forwards out there. He wasnt a physical specimen to start with and his age is really catching up to him.
Frost: Center who had a very Kotkaniemi like year this year. Had 2 goals through the first 27 games to include being benched by Torts. His last half of the season he put up a 60 point pace effort. Frost still has 2-3C projections although he has taken a while to get where he is. Torts still wavers on his belief of what Frost is and what he will be with Philly. Is that keeping Frost back from committing to Philly?
Honorable mentions: E. Staal, Pius Suter, N Ritchie, ZAR, Brassard. Jack McBain.
Who has a need for one of our defenders?
Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton was rumored to be interested in Pesce. All are likely on Pesce's no trade list. Both would have to send roster player(s) out in the deal to make the cap work. Toronto have Nylander who may be available but that will take a young roster forward going back. Edmonton arent going to move their roster forwards that are of interest. Vancouver doesnt have much in the line of interesting forwards they will move. Beauviller would be of some interest but he is more of hustle guy and less of what we need.
Nashville is rumored to have interest but they have very few forwards that would be of interest. We should expect that they arent moving any of them.
Zona was a surprise spender this offseason. They really need some defense to go along with their really good crop of young forwards. I dont know if Zona would have a lot of interest in Pesce or Skjei as I doubt either would be interested in hanging around long term.
Buffalo. Buffalo has some interesting forwards but none are available. Mittlestadt is there but he is a better defensive and younger version of Kuzy from Washington. A small playing, perimeter, playmaking center. It isnt what we need so I dont see us trading a top 4 defender for a guy we dont need.
Dallas could use either one but has a cap issue to make them fit. Marchment is there but was below value last year with only 12 goals in 68 games. Dallas has Wyatt Johnston but there is about 0% chance Dallas moves him.
The honest question is a 1 for 1 trade really possible? It is possible if a team gets desperate but there isnt much options that I can see.
Where does that leave us?
Option 1: the current math of cap space, 845k, and expecting that half the season of Kochetkov's remaining 1.25 million not counting against the NHL cap for another 625k of savings, we would be able to afford a 5.8 million dollar cap hit forward at the deadline. We can afford almost every potential FA in the next class cap wise with retention. Ill kick that hornet's nest and leave it at that.
Option 2: a complicated trade. i.e. Some team takes on Pesce or Skjei, a third team takes half of the cap hit or a cap dump as a part of the deal. The canes will receive some good futures. Canes take those futures and flip them, possibly with extra futures, to get a player.
I believe Philly has some very interesting young forwards worth exploring.
Im still on the Tippett train. Cutter Gauthier didnt attend philly's prospect camp. I will try not to read too much into that situation, but maybe? Frost is still there. Frost isnt a fantastic option but with a center group of Staal, KK, and Aho we can afford wait on Frost to hit that 2C projection and invest in him long term. We could possibly get another KK like investment that becomes really cheap in short time.
Option 3: Trade a defender for good futures and acquire a decent forward option to add depth as we likely wont be aggressive with rentals at the deadline. Nino, Henrique, Backlund, Barabanov, and Labanc are likely options at his point.
Option 4: Trade a defender for good futures and offer sheet Lafreniere. we have talked about this a lot so I wont go into this.
We may go into the season with what we have because the options are fairly limited and made more limited with Skjei and Pesce's modified no trade clauses.
Options are available but none are slam dunk options. Probably not what you want to here.
Do you have other names in mind?