It took longer than the Hurricanes had anticipated, but the Ian White trade was finally concluded on Friday.
Further complicating the move that took place three days after Brett Carson’s recall set the wheels in motion, two trades were required to send White to the San Jose Sharks. First, the Canes acquired 23-year-old defenseman Derek Joslin in exchange for future considerations before a second transaction with the Sharks sent White west in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.
The Canes are expected to carry both Carson and Joslin on the roster for the immediate future, letting the coaching staff decide how to best replace White in the top six.
“They fall into that same area where they would play,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford. “We’re comfortable with the way Brett has played this year. He played real well for us last year, and between him and Derek, they are certainly qualified to play in that spot.”
As players seemingly on the cusp of becoming NHL regulars, Carson and Joslin have a similar amount of major-league experience. Carson has played 68 NHL games, including nine this season, with Joslin playing 53 NHL games, including 17 this season.
Based on Rutherford’s comments, Carson may be the more polished of the two at this point.
“Joslin is a player that’s still developing and hasn’t been a regular in this league,” he said. “He skates well, has good skill and can play both the left and the right side. He’s a player that we like, and over time we think can be very useful.”
Adding some intrigue to the competition is the fact that, according to Rutherford, Joslin would require waivers in order to be assigned to the American Hockey League, while Carson would not at this point. Carson will require waivers if he stays in the NHL for a certain amount of time, starting with his Feb. 15 recall from Charlotte.
According to Rutherford, White’s contract status and $3 million salary played a factor in the trade. He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, meaning the Hurricanes could have lost him for nothing if they were unable or chose not to resign him. Joslin, a restricted free agent, would also need a new contract this summer, but the Hurricanes have more time and leverage as they would continue to hold his rights once his current deal expires.
Rutherford also pointed to the fact that White had spent the majority of his time with the Hurricanes on the third defensive pairing, despite a salary that tied him with Tim Gleason as the team’s second-highest paid blue liner behind Joni Pitkanen.
“I thought maybe he would have played up a little higher in the lineup, the way I have to look at it, based on his contract,” he said. “We had a chance to get a pretty good return for Ian, which gives us a few options going forward.”
As for the other piece the Hurricanes received in the deal, Rutherford said he insisted that the second-round pick be for the 2012 draft rather than the one coming up this June.
“That was my preference, because that’s an asset that we will have longer to use, whether we want to trade for a player in the offseason or next season,” he said. “We have a lot of good young players now, so we can afford to do that.”
After the completion of the trade, the Hurricanes save the prorated equivalent of $2.5 million – the difference between White’s $3 million salary and Joslin’s league-minimum $500,000. They can either pocket those savings or use the newfound budget room to take on additional salary between now and the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
Rutherford said that talks have been ongoing with other teams, as they are at all times during the season, and that he may take advantage of that breathing room in the right situation.
“Making this deal gives us flexibility to look at some other options if they come our way,” he said.