– While the Carolina Hurricanes weren’t active on the day of the NHL’s trade deadline, the team did make a number of splashes in the week prior, leveraging current talent slated to hit the open market in mere months in exchange for future aid.
The team made two moves last Wednesday before wheeling another trade on Saturday and re-signing Jay McClement on Sunday.
Let’s take a closer look at the three trades made in the last week.
To CAR: 2016 third-round pick, 2015 fifth- or sixth-round pick
To WPG: Jiri Tlusty
To CAR: 2015 or 2016 first-round pick, Roland McKeown
To LA: Andrej Sekera
In total, the Canes amassed four draft picks, a defenseman and a defensive prospect in exchange for three impending unrestricted free agents.
“I think at the end of the day, we feel comfortable with what we got in return for the guys we moved based on all the information and expectations heading into the week,” said Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis on a Monday conference call.
The Canes currently own 10 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, and that number will jump to 11 in the likely scenario that the Los Angeles Kings qualify for the playoffs. Should that happen, the Canes would own two first-round picks and six picks in the top 100 in what is considered to be a very deep and very talented draft pool. 11 total draft picks would mark the most in a single year since 1992.
“It gives you a lot more options, whether you use those picks, try to move them for players or try to package them together to move up in the draft,” Francis said.
“I know Ronnie is committed to getting this thing turned around. We need more depth; we need more depth here in Carolina, and we need more depth in Charlotte. That’s what we’re going to undertake,” head coach Bill Peters said after Monday’s morning skate in Chicago. “We have to draft well, and then after that we have to develop well. Then, we have to continue to get better. It’s a process.”
While the Hurricanes departed with three players headed for the open market come July 1, the team did opt to retain one, signing McClement to a two-year extension over the weekend. McClement was coming off a two-goal performance against the Islanders on Saturday, and the 32-year-old veteran forward has totaled 18 points (6g, 12) and a plus-3 rating in 61 games this season. He also leads the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:24 per game) as a crucial cog in the Canes’ top-ranked penalty kill. McClement is aces in the circle, ranking first on the team and 14th in the league in face-off percentage at 55.3 percent.
“We felt comfortable with the term and money. You look at what he does for us: he’s one of the top centers in the league on faceoffs, and he’s a big part of our penalty killing,” Francis said. “He’s a consummate pro, he’s a good person and someone that our young guys look up to and talk to for advice and guidance. We thought he was a valuable piece.”
“One less hole to fill. We have some holes; we’re not naïve, we know that. If we weren’t to sign J-Mac, we’d have to go find a fourth-line center, and now we don’t have to do that,” Peters said. “He’s earned the two-year deal. He’s been excellent for us, and he’s a real good pro.”
With major pieces already moved prior to Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, the Hurricanes weren’t pressed to make any additional moves on what is also a gameday for the team in Chicago.
“We had some discussions today on different things, but there was nothing there,” Francis said.
With an eye turned toward the future, the Canes made a number of moves in the week preceding the trade deadline, ensuring the team has valuable assets, whether in picks, prospects or players, stocked moving forward.
“With guys slotted kind of where they thought they would be at the start of the season, it’s translated to some success for us over the last couple of months,” Francis said. “The bottom line is we’re not in the playoffs. We have to look at everything and do things that we think will help us get there moving forward.”
Francis spoke with the media via a conference call just past the 3 p.m. EST deadline. Here’s more of his reaction.
On if the Canes were ever close to re-signing Tlusty or Sekera: ““No, not really. … We just didn’t feel comfortable with those types of deals at this point.”
On if the team fielded offers for McClement: “We did have interest in Jay, and that’s certainly something you always look at and weigh the possibilities. But once you move a player, there’s no guarantee that you get a chance to go back after him on July 1. He could go someplace else. … We thought he was a good fit for us, and we wanted to move forward and get that done.”
On potential moves in the summer: “There are some things out there that we don’t have the answer for yet, one being the draft. If we’re fortunate enough to win the lottery, that sort of changes your perspective on what you’re doing going forward.”
On his first trade deadline as a GM: “I’d be lying if I wasn’t saying you were a little bit nervous going into your first trading deadline when you’re calling the shots, but you try to prepare yourself going in as best you can. You do your history on what the value was in previous years, and you try to get a sense in talking to teams what they’re looking for.”
On how much input Peters has with personnel decisions: “I have a lot of communication with Bill. As a GM, you have to be somewhat careful in your dialogue. Coaches are closer to the trenches than the GMs are. … We give him a voice and an opinion in what we’re trying to accomplish.”