Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com 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.
Understandably, a good chunk of the questions I received this week were about the Hurricanes' goaltending situation, which now features a new face. This was the most open-ended of the questions, so here we go.
As you've no doubt heard already (if not - where have you been?!), the Hurricanes acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round pick on Friday night. There are a few things to dissect with this move, and we'll start with the trade itself.
Simply, it was a great trade. Ron Francis signed Viktor Stalberg to a one-year deal last summer. Stalberg was dealt at the deadline for Ottawa's third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the pick - the lowest of the three that the Canes were slated to make in the third round - that was then flipped to Chicago for Darling. That's incredibly deft asset management.
Here's the catch: Darling is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so an additional step remains for the Hurricanes to add him to their goaltending fold. In trading for Darling, the Hurricanes now have exclusive negotiating rights with him until free agency opens; had they not traded for him, the Canes would be directly competing with other clubs for his services come July 1, and that can get messy (and pricey).
Obviously, there is inherent risk in trading for a player who is due to hit the open market in a couple of months. The Hurricanes, well aware of this risk, are willing to take the chance in order to attempt to get a deal inked with Darling before July 1 even becomes a thought.
Assuming that happens and Darling is officially added to the Canes' roster for the 2017-18 campaign and beyond, what becomes of either Cam Ward or Eddie Lack? Both are under contract for next season, and carrying three goaltenders is not practical or ideal. One of the two will have to be exposed in this summer's expansion draft. What happens beyond that is uncertain at this point. But one thing is clear: the Canes hope Darling is a big part of their goaltending future.
When Francis was asked about offseason priorities in his end-of-season press conference, he said it was no secret that goaltending needed to improve. The trade to acquire Darling is an important step forward in that direction.
There's just one!
And it's a team that no other team has made a trade with, either … for now: the Vegas Golden Knights.
Buffalo was the answer to this trivia question until the Hurricanes acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Sabres in June 2013.
Nope, Evgenii Dadonov, acquired in a depth trade with Florida in January 2012, and Oskar Osala, acquired from Washington in March 2010, are both unrestricted free agents when it comes to their contract statuses in the NHL.
For those players under contract with the organization, be sure to bookmark this page - it's updated regularly and hopefully is a handy tool.
Has to be The Mikeys, the faux awards show we debuted on the final episode of Hurricanes Live of the season. It was a fun little thing that Mike cooked up on the plane ride to Philadelphia, and we sort of just ran with it from there. Mike put together the envelope system (that I would then briefly fumble) and sought the assistance of the Canes' fine equipment staff to christen the Mikey award, fittingly a mic. It was a fun way to draw the curtain on the season, and maybe we can resurrect it next year.
For your viewing pleasure, the entire segment can be seen below.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a favorite TV moment from this past season you'd like to share, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.