In yesterday’s article, I did a breakdown of the Carolina Hurricanes’ cap situation and it became clear that while they aren’t going to lose anyone due to the cap, they also don’t have a ton of room to add. So today's article will focus on who the Hurricanes could move to clear cap space for an upgrade.
For me, the most likely trade pieces are:
- Jake Gardiner ($4.05M AAV)
- Ryan Dzingel ($3.38M AAV)
- Petr Mrazek ($3.13M AAV)
I’ve left Nino Niederreiter off this list, based on the fact that his contract may be hard to move, as a result of both his play this year and the stagnant salary cap. I'm not expecting much of a return for the players above, at least in the case of Gardiner or Dzingel, but the key asset would be the cap space. I have Mrazek listed rather than Reimer because if a starter is being brought in anyways, Mrazek has a higher trade value and Reimer also proved this year that he can be an effective backup goalie.
To me, Gardiner is the most necessary trade piece because at the moment, the Hurricanes already have enough depth on defense that he could be moved and Jake Bean could take over Gardiner’s spot. Considering Bean needs to get into game action so the Hurricanes can evaluate him ahead of the expansion draft anyways, Gardiner being moved would free up $4.05 million (minus Bean’s salary), while still keeping the team competitive.
In Dzingel’s case, however, if Justin Williams doesn’t return, he’s likely to have a spot in the top-nine next season. So if that’s the case, Dzingel being traded relies on someone else being brought in. This is the case with Mrazek (or James Reimer, I suppose) as well, who will remain in net unless an upgrade is brought in. In either case, if Gardiner was moved as well, the Hurricanes would probably have around $6.5 million total to spend on either an upgrade in net or in their forward group ($4.05M (minus replacement player) + $3.38M/$3.13M).
The way I see it, the Hurricanes can probably make one expensive upgrade if they move Gardiner, along with either Dzingel or Mrazek, based on which position they choose to upgrade. They could instead, however, trade all three and look to make less expensive upgrades to both positions and potentially find a goalie and a forward who are making a total of a little under $10 million ($4.05M (minus replacement player) + $3.38M + $3.13M).
Something important, however, is that the Hurricanes probably aren’t going to want to spend right to the cap even if they are able to, as they’ll have some key pieces in Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov who will be in need of new, much more expensive contracts in a year from now.
For this year though, Carolina could have some room to make upgrades, if they’re able to move a couple of the players listed above. The Hurricanes certainly have positions of need and clearing out some cap space would go a long way towards being able to address them.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
If the Hurricanes could upgrade one position, which should it be?