The Carolina Hurricanes have had a tough go of things this season. Under Head Coach Bill Peters the ‘canes have are in a rebuilding phase. In a tough market and with limited dollars to spend the hurricanes have fallen to last place in the Metro and last in the East. They sport a -23 goal differential behind shaky scoring and shaky goaltending. Despite these deficiencies there is a lot to hope for in Carolina.
Let’s start with the forward group:
Jeff Skinner is a stud but doesn’t get much hype. He only has 39 points in 55 games, but 20 of those points are goals, in which he leads the team. Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask are up the middle which on paper isn’t a bad trio to build around. Staal is already 28 but Rask and Lindholm are each young and developing. Development is a key work for the Hurricanes as they are a young team with promise. Sebastian Aho has been a rookie sensation with 17 goals and 15 assists, but because of the stacked rookie class, and because he plays in Carolina, has been left off the rookie Calder race talk.
The real strength of this team is built around the defense and going forward the massive amount of defensive talent this team has. *Ron Hainsey who was playing top line minutes was just traded to the Pens for a 2nd round pick and a career AHL player, which is a pretty good deal given the value*
Leading the defensive charge is stud Justin Faulk. Faulk is a true top pairing defenseman and will be for years. I am not sure what type of defenseman he becomes but he has all the tools to becoming one of the best in the league. With 25 points already and playing against the toughest competition he is someone that Carolina can either build around or trade for some high quality forwards, which they need desperately.
Also on the blue line is youngsters Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, and Noah Hanifin. All three of these guys are early in their career and showing some promise.
Sell sell sell. Carolina is in a clear rebuilding phase of their organization and they have been for a few years. That losing period has paid off in terms of young controllable assets that they can now move. They have four really good defenseman that all can eventually work as a top pair, so should Carolina sell some now and quicken the rebuild, I think so.
Faulk: This guy is going to command at lot at the deadline or at the end of the season. Carolina is going to want a young cost controlled winger to pair with Staal, Lindholm, or Rask. I don’t think they’ll be too picky though and only require a winger, a center will do as well and they can figure out the lines at that time. I would love Carolina to do a trade with Toronto for Nylander but I fear that Faulk may not get it done. Carolina could throw in some of their 2nd round picks (they have three total) or third round picks (2 total) to sweeten the deal.
Lee Stempniak: Carolina would be wise to sell Stemp now even though he has a year left on his deal after this one. Stemp has played great hockey so far this year, just like last year, and has earned his money. Stemp could fetch as much as a 1st round pick in this weaker draft class but most likely will fetch a 2nd rounder plus a later round pick. He plays great two-way hockey and would be an asset on the third or fourth line of a contender
Stalberg: He is a pending UFA and since Carolina is in rebuilding mode they may be better off giving that ice time to a younger forward. He has been playing on the fourth line so may not fetch much, but he is experienced and would be a nice depth piece for a contender. Maybe someone like Washington if they want some reinforcements.
Cam Ward/Eddie Lack: Right now both goalies haven’t played their best and Lack has been hurt all year. Ward has only a .904 save % this year so he probably wont get much if anything in return. They each have one year left on their contract so it may be better to hold on to them for now and see where the dust settles at the end of the year. Not sure what they can do in terms of an upgrade this offseason, but after the 2018 season they are going to need answers.
Carolina has ungodly amounts of cap space so I would look for them to take on bad contracts in return for amassing draft picks. With the weaker than normal class amassing as many draft picks as possible would be wise. The ‘canes already have 6 picks in the first three rounds and 10 total but the more draft picks the better. I could see them taking on struggling players with terrible short term contracts in order to a) get that sending team better cap space and b) amass as many picks as possible. Even in a down year those picks can turn into future NHL stars, hell Aho was a second round pick and he’s turned out great