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Why the Hurricanes Stood Pat as the Trade Deadline Passed

Acquisition of Niederreiter, Staal's return changed deadline approach for Canes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell sat down at the podium shortly after the NHL's trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. on Monday.

"Slow day in Canes world," he said.

Save for a minor-league trade designed to bolster the depth of their American League affiliate, the Hurricanes stood pat, though plenty of conversations were had in the weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to the deadline.

"We talked to every team in the league. The last hour, like every trade deadline day, was the most exciting," Waddell said. "We actually made an offer with some picks for a player who had term left. We were looking at every possibility there was."

The team was content, though, to let the deadline come and go if there wasn't a move that made sense.

That's because the Hurricanes had already made their trade deadline move.

It's just that it happened a month before the trade deadline.

On Thursday, Jan. 17, the Hurricanes acquired Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Victor Rask, a one-for-one hockey trade.

"When you make that trade, nobody knows how it's going to work out," Waddell said.

The Canes had a hunch that a change of scenery and an elevated role for Niederreiter might work out all right - and they were correct.

It took Niederreiter just 15 games with the Canes to score nine goals, the same amount he'd accrued in 46 games with the Wild this season. He's also factored in for six assists and is nearly a point-per-game player since joining the Canes (15 points in 16 games).

The trade immediately improved the Hurricanes' group of top-six forwards and also altered the team's approach to Feb. 25.

Video: Don Waddell Trade Deadline Press Conference

With that scoring threat added to the top line, the Hurricanes didn't feel as much pressure to make an additional move, perhaps having to offload one of their highly-coveted, right-shooting defensemen. That's also a move the team could tackle in the offseason, should it still want to add a scoring punch.

As it stands now, though, the team addressed the need for scoring with the addition of Niederreiter. In the 16 games he's been in the lineup, the Canes have scored a total of 56 goals, which ranks tied for second in the league.

"We believe we can score enough goals now to win games," Waddell said.

Jordan Staal's return from injury can also be viewed as a "trade deadline acquisition," considering the big centerman missed 32 of the team's last 34 games before getting back in the lineup in Dallas on Saturday.

And, getting Staal back cost the Canes exactly nothing.

On the other side of potential moves, Micheal Ferland was the team's biggest question mark heading into the trade deadline. The 26-year-old forward is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Canes elected to hang on to Ferland as the clock struck three.

"We had lots of conversations right up until the deadline. We said to everyone involved that Micheal is a very important part of our hockey club," Waddell said. "At the end of the day, there was nothing that made sense."

Though Ferland might want to test the open market in order to maximize his contract, both in term and dollar amount, the Hurricanes will have the opportunity to re-sign him, a conversation that will be had down the road after the season is over, Waddell said. 

So, that was that for the Hurricanes on trade deadline day.

It was a quiet day, but that's just fine for the Canes, who are 18-6-1 in their last 25 games and currently occupying a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"At the end of the day, we went into the day liking our team and we're going to end today liking our team just as much," Waddell said. "We believe in this team, and that's why we stuck with them."

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