The Carolina Hurricanes have missed the playoffs for the last nine straight years and new ownership wants none of that. After former majority owner Peter Karmanos Jr. sold the majority stake of the Hurricanes to Thomas Dundon, the latter seemed to want a far more hands-on role with his team’s hockey operations than his predecessor. Unsatisfied with the Hurricanes’ direction, Dundon quickly decided to take out the broom for a spring cleanup. He fired Whalers/Hurricanes legend and GM Ron Francis, while also firing Bill Peters as head coach. He brought in a new management group headed by former Atlanta Thrashers GM, Don Waddell to overhaul the team. Waddell quickly phoned his good friend Rick Dudley and made him assistant GM. A few days later, Waddell announced the hiring of former Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’amour as head coach.
Clearly, the Hurricanes have set themselves up with a management team ready to compete for a playoff spot right away. The Hurricanes, who won the right to pick 2nd overall at this year’s NHL Draft, are ready to deal. Bob Mackenzie has even stated that the Hurricanes are willing to trade anyone on their roster not named Sebastien Aho. Such a bombshell sent hockey fans into a frenzy, as trade rumours and proposals began to pop up everywhere. It’s clear to see that the Hurricanes want to get better now. They can’t go 10 years without making the playoffs, as their low attendance figures have many fans worried. Dundon is convinced that trading some youth, expiring contracts and their 2nd overall pick will jumpstart the team. Let’s take a look at the best assets the Hurricanes could trade in order to jumpstart the team.
Carolina Hurricanes’ Best Trade Chip: The 2nd overall pick
When the Hurricanes went into the Draft Lottery with the 11th best odds, many fans had little expectations. However, the Hurricanes were able to win the 2nd overall pick with only a 3% chance of success. The Hurricanes can now utilize this pick to draft a game-breaking top end player, or they can choose to trade it for immediate help. Many Canes fans have already begun salivating at the thought of Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina in a Carolina jersey. Teams like the Canadiens, Rangers, Wings, Oilers will certainly be willing to complicate things for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes could trade down in the draft in order to acquire a solid piece for their current roster. Many hockey experts believe the Hurricanes are the franchise most likely to trade down at this point. The potential return for dropping down 2-6 spots might be worth it for a team that finished 10th in the East. The Hurricanes would still be able to draft players like Oliver Wahlstrom, Adam Boqvist, Quinn Hughes or Noah Dobson. They would also be able to acquire a top-6 forward like Hayes (NYR) or Athanasiou (DET) I the process. Not too shabby for a team that was set to draft 11th overall this June.
Time to Move on: The Tale of Elias Lindholm
When the ailing Hurricanes picked Elias Lindholm 5th overall, management believed they had found their future 2nd line center. The young Swedish center started with the Hurricanes right away and put up a respectable 21 points in 58 games. Unfortunately, he never really took off from that point. He hit a career high in points during the 2016-2017 campaign, putting up 45 points in 72 games. He was often played on the right-wing due to the emergence of another young center, Victor Rask. Furthermore, he never really broke out offensively, posting a career-high of 16 goals this year.
Clearly, the young Swede has not lived up to his potential within the Hurricanes organization and requires a change of scenery. With the drafting of center Martin Necas last year, Lindholm has thus become expandable for the Hurricanes. He could be dangled for immediate help to a team that requires center depth. The Montreal Canadiens, the Winnipeg Jets, and the New York Rangers could certainly make a few calls for Lindholm. I would certainly not expect to see Lindholm in a Hurricanes jersey this October.
The Big NHL Summer Trade: Jeff Skinner
Jeff Skinner has been the face of the Hurricanes since he his Calder-winning rookie season in 2010-2011. The former 7th overall pick was one of the few bright spots in Raleigh after many disappointing seasons. He scored 30 goals and 60 points thrice so far, but his production has been surpassed by Aho and Teravainen. He has one year left on his $5.75 million deal, and the Hurricanes would more than likely use that money to resign the two aforementioned youngsters. There’s a changing of the guard in Carolina, as Skinner is no longer considered their main offensive weapon. Instead, Aho and Teravainen, who need to be re-signed next year, seem to run the offense just fine.
It seems likely that a team with a desperate need for a top-line winger will roll the dice on Jeff Skinner. He and Max Pacioretty seem like the two most likely wingers to be traded this summer, and both will return a nice haul. Skinner could also show that last year’s performance was an aberration if he lands on a talented team. Once again, Edmonton would have to be interested in a natural scorer like Skinner to play with McDavid. Furthermore, teams like Anaheim, Detroit and Toronto could look to fill a hole on their left-wing with Skinner.
Bob Mackenzie has said that the likeliest player to be traded this summer is most certainly Skinner. As much as he has held the fort in Raleigh, both sides need to move on. Skinner can use this extra attention and potential success to parlay a new long-term contact next summer. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes could potentially secure a young defenseman or top-6 forward that can play right away.
The Winds of Change: The Hurricane’s Tune
No matter how you look at it, the Hurricanes seem to be in the driver’s seat. They have the assets and willingness to make bold moves this summer and fans should be excited. The management team has reinvigorated interest in the franchise. You can be sure that their moves over the next 2-3 months will mirror their desire for instant results. Fans fear that GM Waddell will be pressured into make some high-risk moves, but he is a wise veteran by now. Everything points to positive and needed change in Hurricane country and fans are ready for it. We should have more of an idea of what is to come by the NHL Draft on June 23rd.