The Hurricanes need a center to anchor one of their top two lines, but may not be willing to part with one of their young defensemen to get a deal done.
Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has had a busy offseason. Since late-April, he acquired and signed goaltender Scott Darling, bought back veteran right winger Justin Williams via free agency, and dealt for center Marcus Kruger and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Francis might not be done dealing before the new season opens in October. NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti reports the Hurricanes still need a playmaking center for their top two forward lines. Francis told Gulitti he’s still talking to teams and hasn’t ruled out making a trade. If he can’t find a suitable deal, however, he’s content to start the season with his current lineup.
Francis has a number of good young defensemen, such as Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin and Justin Faulk. He could draw upon that depth as trade bait for a center, but so far he’s been reluctant to do so. Gulitti feels Francis, at some point, might have to change his mind.
The Hurricanes are often considered a prime destination for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. It’s believed the Avs want a young, established top-four defenseman as part of their asking price.
In July 3, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Francis wasn’t willing to part with one of his blueliners for a player who could depart via free agency in two years time. Duchene wasn’t mentioned by name but he is eligible for UFA status in 2019.
Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs could become a trade partner for the Hurricanes. They could use another defenseman with upside and have several young scoring forwards that could entice Francis. Nazem Kadri, 26, has emerged as a good two-way center. William Nylander and Mitch Marner have superb playmaking ability and can play center or on the wing.
COYOTES LOOKING DEFENSE HELP
The Arizona Coyotes last week announced defenseman Jakob Chychrun is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery related to an off-season training injury. The 19-year-old had a promising debut last season, posting a respectable 20 points in 68 games.
AZCentral.com’s Sarah McLellan examined the Coyotes’ options if Chychrun, a left-handed shot, remains sidelined beyond the start of the season. They could look at unrestricted free agents such as Cody Franson or Dennis Wideman or attempt to swing a trade with teams carrying a surplus of blueliners.
McLellan noted the Vegas Golden Knights could be open to moving lefties like Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner or Griffin Reinhart. Sbisa ($3.6-million annual average salary) and Stoner (3.25 million) are established veteran rearguards eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Reinhart is signed through 2018-19 at $800,000 annually but he’s struggled to stick at the NHL level.
McLellan also listed the Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings as possible trade partners. Prying a defenseman away from those clubs, however, is easier said than done.
The Sabres recently bolstered their defensive depth by acquiring Marco Scandella from Minnesota, while the Canucks added free agents Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch. It’s unlikely those rebuilding clubs will be shopping a blueliner this fall.
Considering how close the Predators came to winning the Stanley Cup this spring, GM David Poile likely intends to keep his defense corps intact for another run at the big mug in 2018. The Red Wings must shed salary before the start of the season. However, blueliners Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley carry no-trade clauses and could be unwilling to waive them.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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