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Tweetmail No. 54: Picks, Trades & Centers

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Smith

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Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

If every condition is met, how many picks do we have in this year’s draft? – Tom H. (@GalaxiusMaximus)

Eleven. Yes, 11.

That would be the most picks in one draft for the franchise since 1992, when the draft spanned 11 rounds. And, it’s worth noting that six of those 11 picks would be in the top 100.

Currently, the Hurricanes hold 10 picks, which is comprised of one of their own in each of the draft’s seven rounds, Arizona’s pick in the fourth round, Ottawa’s pick in the sixth round and Winnipeg’s pick either in the fifth round (if they make the playoffs) or sixth round (if they don’t make the playoffs). The 11th pick comes into play in the likely event that the Los Angeles Kings make the playoffs; if they do not qualify for the postseason this year, the pick is lottery protected, and the Canes will receive their first-rounder in 2016.

Having this amount of picks gives the Hurricanes options come the offseason. Do they use all of the picks on players on draft day? Do they package picks in trades for players or to move up? These are all questions General Manager Ron Francis and his staff can ponder.

In any case, it’s the first step in building toward the future.

“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.”

What’s a day in the life of a newly-traded player like? – Becca (@beccarvn)

It certainly varies from situation to situation, but for this question, let’s look at Jack Hillen’s Saturday in which he was traded from the Washington Capitals to the Canes.

After playing against his would-be new team in Raleigh on Friday night, Hillen and the Caps flew back to D.C., and the Canes jetted for Long Island. The next morning, Hillen woke up and was preparing to practice with the Caps when he was called into an office with General Manager Brian MacLellan and head coach Barry Trotz and informed of the trade.

In the early afternoon, he was back on an airplane en route to LaGuardia in advance of the Canes’ 5 p.m. faceoff against the New York Islanders. He arrived at the rink in time for warm-ups, and a short while later, he was playing in a back-to-back in which, hours before, he had no idea he’d be involved.

There was only enough time for a very basic crash-course in the Canes’ systems, but ultimately it’s still the game of hockey.

“I’m a hockey player and they want you to play hockey. I went out there and did the best I could on such short notice,” he said after the game. “I thought we did pretty well tonight. Any time you come in here and beat one of the best teams in the league, you must be doing something right.”

In his postgame interview, the drain of the day was evident on his face.

“It was a whirlwind day, and I’m pretty tired,” he said. “I’ll get some rest on the plane and tonight. It’s just a crazy day, and I’m glad to get that first one out of the way.”

Making the trade on the tarmac the night prior would have been much easier, I joked.

“It’s part of the business. I’m not going to lie: the trade really caught me off guard. I didn’t expect that,” he said. “I’m excited to be here, but it’s definitely been a draining day.”

Now having played his first weekend with the team and the trade deadline passed, Hillen traveled back to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to see his family, pack up some belongings and retrieve his vehicle – things he, of course, didn’t have time to do on such short notice on the weekend.

I understand Elias Lindholm will get a look at center, but do you think we will ever see Eric Staal back at center? – Jeremy H. (@hart_jerm)

Yes, and perhaps sooner rather than later.

Though lines at Wednesday’s practice had no bearing on Friday’s game – Jay McClement was filling in on defense in Hillen’s absence, and we know McClement is going to be the team’s fourth-line center – the Staals were centering two different lines, something that could be explored in the weeks ahead.

“We might do that,” Peters said after practice. “We’ve got all the freedom in the world. We’ve got to make sure we know exactly what we have.”

Lindholm, as you mentioned, is likely going to get a look at center, too. The 20-year-old forward projects as an NHL center, but he’s played the wing primarily early in his career.

“I definitely want to,” Peters said of slotting Lindholm at center. “At some point before we’re done, we’ll have him in the middle for a sequence of games.”

In the final 20 games of the season, line combinations could be somewhat fluid as the coaching staff evaluates the pieces they have.

“Everything is fair game. We can’t go into the summer wondering if a guy can play in a certain situation,” Peters said. “We have to have the answers.”


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to discuss THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes (or drop an email here).

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