The Carolina Hurricanes could make a lot of noise this off-season with a ton of players potentially being on their way out via free agency. They cannot be disappointed in their season this year. But at the same time, they ultimately had the same fate four years in a row; falling short of the Stanley Cup Final. There has been one glaring hole on this roster over the course of their recent playoff runs. They need a consistent, dominant goal-scorer. That is what I am here to talk about. Who fits that need? Whether it be through free agency, trade, or even their farm system, they need to figure out a way to find that missing piece to the puzzle.
The Canes have quite a few important Forwards headed to unrestricted free agency. Vinny Trocheck, Nino Niederreiter, and Max Domi are the three biggest names to mention. On top of them, they have Martin Necas and Steven Lorentz headed for restricted free agency. Trocheck and Necas both did not deliver quite as much as they were probably hoping for this past season. They have some work to do in their forward room.
On defense, they can potentially lose Ian Cole and Brendan Smith to unrestricted free agency. Possibly their biggest loss would be Tony DeAngelo who is a restricted free agent. If they lose Tony D to free agency, they’ll lose even more offense to find this off-season. I really think this off-season can change the franchises future drastically for better or for worse. They are one off-season away from the Stanley Cup
There is a lot of work to do on this roster this off-season, and I am going to talk about some of their options now. They can go the route of bringing back the same group for the most part and retain guys like DeAngelo, Trocheck, Niederreiter, and Necas. Fill in a few of their special teams guys through free agency, and run it back in 2022-23. That would be option one.
Option two would be to attack the top unrestricted free agents aggressively. So let’s review some of the possible options that will potentially be available on the market. Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Evgeni Malkin, and Claude Giroux. Those are the four names that stand out the most to me amongst unrestricted free agents. With the exception of Gaudreau, I do not see a name that lunges them into the Stanley Cup contention. That being said, I do not see Gaudreau going to Carolina. So, option two would be to sign one of the top free agents to replace a guy like Trocheck this off-season and hope that the production is consistent, and good enough to catapult them to the Stanley Cup Final.
The third and final option would be to see what team’s are willing to seek a trade for a true superstar. There is a long list of names that could be on the trade market. To name some; David Pastrnak, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Mark Scheifele, and Vladimir Tarasenko.
I will start with probably the least likely, and that is David Pastrnak. I have heard he is not happy about the Bruce Cassidy firing and he is just one year away from being a free agent. He will break the bank somewhere and if Boston doesn’t want to pay him big with his injury history, then they could consider moving him a year earlier and getting a huge return.
Next I’ll go to the pair of Blackhawks on the list. Alex DeBrincat’s name has been swirling lately as a likely trade piece. I don’t see the reason the Blackhawks would move off of him, but if he is available, he would be exactly what they need having scored 160 goals in his first five seasons in the NHL. That is a lot of production out of a 24-year old who could just be entering his prime. On the other hand, I don’t think you could get a better player than Patrick Kane on the trade market. This is the perfect time for the Blackhawks to move off of him and the money he’ll demand. He has the winning pedigree the Canes need. Finally, he is still producing at an extremely high level, and they would both be perfect fits for one another.
Mark Scheifele is another player that could be headed elsewhere. He has just one more season on the books right now, and he is 29 years old now. It’s possible if the team wants to move in another direction that they’ll move him now and get something for him instead of letting him walk in a year.
Finally, we have Vladimir Tarasenko. This is the one guy that could be a huge risk, but could be an even bigger reward. We know he can score the puck, but how consistently? The question with him would be do you bring him in and take a chance, or re-sign Trocheck, give up nothing, and possibly be better off anyways? I think there’s a strong chance Tarasenko gets moved this summer, but I don’t know if he makes sense for the Canes. It still could be a name to watch out for, though.
The Off-Season Plan
All in all, I believe their best option is the third one, in which they should attack the trade market. Bring back your top defensemen in Tony DeAngelo before he hits the market, both of your goalies will be back, now go get yourselves a star that can bring this team over the top. I believe they should focus on the Blackhawks this summer. They have a great trade history with the organization, and there are two players that could be available via trade that would be perfect fits for them this off-season. Here is what a return could look like for one of DeBrincat or Kane for the Blackhawks.
- Hurricanes 2023 1st-round pick
- Hurricanes 2022 2nd-round pick
- Martin Necas (RFA)
- Ryan Suzuki
If Hurricanes receive Kane:
- Patrick Kane (CHI retains 25% of salary)
If Hurricanes receive DeBrincat:
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI retains 0% of salary)
This may seem like a huge haul in the Blackhawks favor, especially for an older player like Kane, but if they want to win a Stanley Cup, this could be just what they need to put them over the top. They need to be willing to do a deal like this to bring this core a cup, because so many of these guys deserve one.