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It’s the Final Countdown. We’re within two weeks of the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered at Daily Faceoff with at least one trade-focused story every day leading up to Deadline Day.
As the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice on Saturday in the Stadium Series, hosting their first-ever outdoor game in North Carolina, we’re going to take a deep dive on the Metropolitan Division leaders.
2023 Trade Deadline Countdown: 13 days
Current Record: 36-10-8, 80 points (1st in Metropolitan)
General Manager: Don Waddell (5th season)
Head Coach: Rod Brind’Amour (5th season)
Captain: Jordan Staal (4th season)
Last Year: Lost to New York Rangers (4-3) in Eastern Conference semifinal.
Current Lineup: Click Here
Goals For: 3.35 per game (10th)
Goals Against: 2.67 per game (6th)
Power Play: 19.9 percent (22nd)
Penalty Kill: 81.5 percent (8th)
RD Brent Burns – Acquired from San Jose on July 13
C Paul Stastny – Signed 1-year, $1.5 million contract on Aug. 23
LW Max Pacioretty – Acquired from Vegas on July 13
LD Calvin de Haan – Signed 1-year, $850,000 contract on Oct. 1
RD Dylan Coghlan – Acquired from Vegas on July 13
RW Ondrej Kase – Signed 1-year, $1.5 million contract on July 13
C Vincent Trocheck – Signed 7-year, $39.375 million contract with N.Y. Rangers on July 13
RD Tony DeAngelo – Traded to Philadelphia on July 8
LW Nino Niederreiter – Signed 2-year, $8 million contract with Nashville on July 21
LD Ian Cole – Signed 1-year, $3 million contract with Tampa Bay on July 13
LD Brendan Smith – Signed 2-year, $2.2 million contract with New Jersey on July 13
RD Ethan Bear – Traded to Vancouver on Oct. 28
C Steven Lorentz – Traded to San Jose on July 13
RW Josh Leivo – Signed 1-year, $750,000 contract with St. Louis on July 14
LW Max Domi – Signed 1-year, $3 million contract with Chicago on July 13
LW Max Pacioretty – Out for the season after re-rupturing Achilles on Jan. 19
RW Ondrej Kase – Likely out for the season after suffering concussion on Opening Night (Oct. 12)
For the most part, the Hurricanes have been healthy as a horse this season. Almost 75 percent of their skaters have played in nearly the full 54-game complement. Stars Sebastian Aho (7 games) and Jaccob Slavin (6 games) have missed a handful, as well as Teuvo Teravainen (10 games). The biggest issue has been the healthy and reliability of their goaltenders, but that is nothing new. Frederik Andersen was out from Nov. 6 to Jan. 12. Pyotr Kochetkov came in and carried the ball, posting the best numbers of any Hurricanes netminder this season. He has sine been sent back to AHL Charlotte.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour said the Canes were noticeably down after Pacioretty suffered a second Achilles rupture just five games into his Carolina tenure; Pacioretty has since underwent season-ending surgery. With the LTIR flexibility from Pacioretty’s injury, the Hurricanes are projected to have $10 million in salary cap space to add at the deadline.
Rewind: 2022 Deadline Playbook
It’s usually helpful to look back to last year’s trade deadline to see if any information can be gleaned to help predict how this year will play out.
In this case, the Hurricanes waited quite literally until the 3 o’clock deadline, snapping up winger Max Domi from Columbus for essentially nothing, a trade that came in at 2:59 p.m. Domi repaid the favor by collecting a game-winning goal in the playoffs.
March 21, 2022
To Carolina: Max Domi, Tyler Inamoto
To Columbus: Aidan Hreschuk (from Carolina)
To Florida: 2022 6th Round Pick (Joshua Davies), Yegor Korshkov (from Carolina)
How did we get here?
One of the more underreported storylines of the season is how the Hurricanes moved on from nine contributors part of last year’s team and have not skipped a beat. They are one franchise not afraid to make changes – and they won a round last spring. They set about replacing them or giving their kids more opportunity.
The result? The second best record in the NHL this season with 80 points in 54 games, trailing only the Boston Bruins – who just set an NHL record for fewest games required for 40 wins.
While the Hurricanes are humming along, when you take a closer look, there are some concerns that likely need to be addressed before the trade deadline.
The Canes’ defensive metrics and penalty killing are top notch. Their even-strength offense has indications that better results may come, but the power play definitely needs more punch. Yes, power play has never really been a strength of this Carolina core, but it currently sits near the bottom quartile of the league. For a team that draws a significant number of penalties because of how fast they play and how hard they work, a poor power play means opponents do not have to adjust their game much to give Carolina’s talented forwards more time and space at even-strength. They don’t have to fear or respect that they might have to pay the price with their power play – they can simply play hard, take the two minutes and say “well worth it,” like Gunnar Staal in Mighty Ducks. That can have a cascading effect on a team’s impact at even-strength, especially as Carolina heads into the stretch run of the season and beyond.
For example, Carolina leads the league in almost every significant underlying statistical category. They’re No. 1 in expected goals for percentage, No. 1 in scoring chance for percentage, No. 1 in high-danger scoring chance for percentage, but sit 22nd in shooting percentage and 10th in goals per game.
Some would attempt to explain that as simply bad luck, as indicated by shooting percentage. They are shooting at a 9.6 percent run this season; league average is 9.9 percent. Others would say that teams feel they can make life increasingly hard on Carolina’s forward group, take liberties when they get into the scoring area or for emboldened in taking away second chance opportunities by any means necessary. If Carolina’s power play was operating at a better clip, it’s possible opponents would approach defending them differently.
One other area of significant concern is goaltending. Their defense has always been stout under Brind’Amour, the overall team structure and commitment – including not just defensemen but help from an elite center like Jordan Staal – helps prop up any netminder. However, both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta have suboptimal save percentages. More concerning is their reliability and dependability factor with regard to injuries.
There’s no question that Pyotr Kochetkov has been a nice find. He got an extensive look when Andersen was out for two months, but it’s hard to believe Carolina will want to rely on a young, third-string goalie to get them to the Promised Land. Kochetkov got his feet wet in the postseason last year, going 1-2 with an ugly .869 save percentage.
The unfortunate part for Carolina is that it’s not easy to fix goaltending at the deadline. Vegas adding Robin Lehner a few years back was one of the few impactful deadline goalie trades. Kochetkov might be as good as anyone else they could find. Fortunately for Carolina, their defense is still the class of the league, and the exact unit they’re going to need to ride to a Stanley Cup parade.
If they can add someone to make them more dangerous on the power play, look out. This might be the year the Canes break through.
Deadline Posture: Smart Buyers
Everything that the Hurricanes do should be viewed through the prism that owner Tom Dundon subscribes to when it comes to winning in the Stanley Cup: It is incredibly random. Think back to the last few Cup winners, outside of Tampa Bay’s back-to-back victories.
The Washington Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy three times (2010, 2016, 2017) with the best regular season record and didn’t break through until 2018 with what they will tell you was probably not the best roster they’d assembled during that time. Same thing with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, who had multiple 100-point teams in the years prior to then but had nothing to show for it.
The goal, as Dundon has stated, is to ice the most competitive team possible for the longest run possible – think 10 years or so – to give your franchise multiple authentic chances to hoist Stanley’s silver chalice.
Given that modus operandi, we should expect that the Hurricanes will leverage their standing and salary cap space to go after a big deadline addition. They aren’t afraid to spend. They will just do it in a way that is smart, unlikely to mortgage a significant part of their future for a player who will only be around for a few weeks.
Top Objective: Top Six Forward
Finisher. That’s the first word that comes to mind when trying to describe Carolina’s need. They’re craving an elite top six forward who can put the puck in the net, particularly with prowess on the power play.
In a perfect world, that forward would also be a center. But with rental Ryan O’Reilly heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the market isn’t really teeming with impact second-line centers with term who could bump Jesperi Kotkaniemi down the lineup. But the world – and especially the NHL trade market – is not perfect.
- Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks: Meier would go such a long way in solving Carolina’s problems. We know they have interest. He is a pure shooter with a rocket of a shot who can score at even-strength and on the man advantage. This season, Meier has 18 power play points (36th in the league) on the NHL’s 23rd-ranked power play in San Jose. The Canes would also appreciate the optionality that Meier’s contract situation brings. They can re-sign him to a long-term extension if desired, though Carolina typically doesn’t like to pay top dollar market price. They could issue him a one-year, $10 million qualifying offer. Or they could attempt to trade his rights in the summer after a playoff run and try to recoup some of what they spent.
- Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings: We have zero indication at all that Larkin is available. Full stop. The smart money is on Larkin and GM Steve Yzerman grinding out a long-term deal. But if on the odd chance Larkin were to spring free, you’d have to think that Carolina would move heaven and earth to try and get him. He is a perfect Brind’Amour type of player and fit for the Canes. Going with Aho and Larkin as a one-two punch would be incredibly special. It’s the stuff Don Waddell’s dreams are made of.
- Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks: There is a potential to buy low with Boeser, who was known as a finisher when he first entered the league, and is in desperate need of a change of scenery. Word is the Canucks are willing to retain a small chunk of Boeser’s $6.65 million cap hit, which goes for the next two seasons. Boeser Could the Canes make another trade with the Canucks?
- Lawson Crouse, Arizona Coyotes: Admittedly, Crouse is not a perfect fit, though he would certainly add some size to the lineup. He is on pace for a career high 31 goals this season, but is shooting nearly 20 percent from the floor. Crouse also has four more years left on his deal at a reasonable $4.3 million.
- Nick Schmaltz, Arizona Coyotes: Schmaltz is not on our Trade Targets board, but he’d be an intriguing 2C option for the Canes. He has been injured a bit, but has racked up 94 points in his last 102 games. He is signed for three more seasons at $5.85 million, so there is value there. Like Crouse, the Coyotes likely aren’t pushing to move Schmaltz, but they’re probably not slamming the phone down if someone is calling.
- Salary Cap Space: The Hurricanes are projected to have north of $10 million in space to burn. You can’t take it with you.
- Draft Board: Carolina has its full complement of picks, including an extra 2024 2nd Round selection acquired from Philadelphia last summer in exchange for the rights to Tony DeAngelo.
- RD Scott Morrow: Morrow was the Canes’ 2021 2nd Round Pick. He’s put up 25 points in 29 games this season at UMass Amherst. The Canes have a deep bench of prospects either close to ready or ready to go at the NHL level and they could make any deal happen.
- C Jack Drury: Include Drury as one of those knocking on the door of the NHL. Drury is a few years older at 23, but put up 52 points and 20 goals in AHL Chicago last year. He has 23 games and four points to his credit at the NHL level as a Hurricanes call-up.
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