Before lunchtime on Monday, Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager had already talked with a handful of his counterparts from around the National Hockey League.
It's trade season, after all, as the NHL barrels toward the 3 p.m., Monday, April 12 deadline.
"I think right now, the biggest thing for us is to just make sure I stay in touch with what's going on out there and what's happening just in case there's something that does make sense for us," Waddell said. "There's a lot of talk going on. The issue right now is there aren't that many teams out of the race. There are a few bigger players being shopped around who are probably getting the most attention around the marketplace. I think there will be some movement, like every year. A lot of UFAs (unrestricted free agents) on teams that are not going to make the playoffs, so they're looking to move those guys."
In late February of 2020, the Canes made a trade deadline day splash with three headline-grabbing moves, and more than a year later, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei remain key pieces of the Canes' roster. The Canes won't be as involved this time around, but that's not to say the transaction wire will remain silent, even with the tight squeeze of a flat salary cap.
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"No way we'll be as active as we were last year, I can tell you that. That's not in the cards right now," Waddell said. "I've been very open about adding a defenseman potentially. It's not even to replace what we have right now, but any time you can add depth is something we have to make sure we're on top of. If there's something that makes sense, we want to have the opportunity to act on it."
Hockey deals - like the moves to acquire Trocheck and Skjei, who both had term left on their contracts - interest the Canes' savvy front office more so than rental players, especially after last year's asset-heavy trades.
There's also the factor of finances during the pandemic. With capacity restrictions in place, teams are unlikely to see much of a monetary bump in the postseason, when they otherwise would typically be able to recoup added salary with bonus playoff revenue.
"We think we're a pretty good hockey team, and we don't really want to give up players off our team at this point. Last year, we gave a lot of assets up, but we got players who were going forward with us," Waddell said. "I'm interested in those deals. We have a little room to take some salary, but at this point I don't think we're going to be giving up a lot of assets to go after a [pending] UFA."
Aside from looking to bolster defensive depth, the Canes could also be a player in the goalie market. With Petr Mrazek's 28-save shutout performance in his return to the crease, the team now has three healthy goaltenders - all with expiring contracts, too - and could choose to move one in the next week.
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"We could carry three. There's also the option that one could bring us the assets we can use to get a player we want to get or trade to a team to get a player we want. I can't say for sure it's going to happen," Waddell said. "There are teams certainly looking for goaltending right now, and we're staying in touch with them, especially now that Petr is back."
Whatever transpires over the next week, the Canes will be content if things at 1400 Edwards Mill Road are rather quiet. After all, the team sits near the top of the league standings at 25-9-3, and with 53 points, the Canes have eclipsed their franchise record for most points through the first 37 games of a season (50, 2005-06).
"If we got healthy for the stretch run and playoffs, I think our team is pretty well built," Waddell said. "I put a lot of faith in that these guys will get the job done."
In non-trade deadline, contract-related news, don't expect to hear much of a new contract for Dougie Hamilton, a pending unrestricted free agent, or Andrei Svechnikov, a restricted free agent, just yet.
"We'll deal with both of those guys in the offseason. I talked with Dougie's agent, and we agreed to let him play hockey. We're in the same boat there. We want Dougie. He's got a good fit here, and he wants to be here. He's also going to be a UFA. We'll deal with that at the end of the year, and we're hoping that we're obviously able to keep him," Waddell said. "Svech, we talked earlier and kind of just put it on hold. At this point of the year, there's no reason to get to it in April. That's another contract we'll get done this summer."
Meanwhile, talks are progressing to extend the contract of head coach Rod Brind'Amour.
"We've talked. With the way the schedule has been, we kind of don't want to talk about it every day. I think we have a framework that's real close," Waddell said. "He's not a guy who's worried about it getting done, and we're not worried about it getting done. We all feel it's going to get done in time. It's just a matter of when that time is."