When Tom Dundon bought the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this year, he instantly started talking like an owner that would be a lot closer to Mark Cuban than the Kroenke family. He clearly wants to be hands-on with the team, and it has forced some long-serving front office personalities - like Ron Francis and Joe Nieuwendyk out of the organization.
The new owner has said a few things that will probably make Canes fans pretty nervous. He seems to be an oldschool thinker that is going to put intangibles ahead of other - more important - hockey characteristics. He has spoken in great length about how a “culture change” in Carolina is necessary for the team to get good, and while that might be true to an extent, it seems as though we might see some crazy moves in order for the new owner to instill his idea of proper “hockey culture”.
Dundon: I’ve come to the conclusion that strategy is pretty overrated. I don’t believe the strategy differences are as important as getting the right culture and the right attitude. I think he gives us the best chance of getting the most out of our players.— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) May 9, 2018
With a new coach in Rod Brind’Amour and the #2 pick in this June’s NHL Entry Draft, The Carolina Hurricanes have an opportunity to look a lot different next season - though maybe not for the better.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie - one of the best in the business - reported that the Hurricanes are open for business and that everyone outside of star winger Sebastian Aho could be available. If this is the case, Joe Sakic has to be on the phone ever day trying to pry some talent out of Carolina. There is a lot of very good young talent on that roster, and for the right move there are a few guys what could fit in perfectly to the Avalanche lineup.
He only turns 26 this week, but it feels like Jeff Skinner has been around forever. The 7th overall pick in 2010 already has more than 200 NHL goals and would be a great option to fill the secondary scoring hole in the Avalanche lineup. Averaging 30 goals a season for the past three years, Skinner is the kind of legitimate sniper that would look really good playing on the wing with Tyson Jost and/or Alex Kerfoot. He’s young, fast and can score - what else do you want?
With one year left at $5.75m cap hit, he wouldn’t be a long-term financial commitment if it turned out he didn’t fit in with the team.
One thing that the Avalanche don’t have many of is right-handed options up front. With the likely departure of Blake Comeau, Nathan MacKinnon and J.T. Compher are the only two right-shooting forwards on the team - and they both play center. Elias Lindholm is a 23-year old right-shot that can play both center and the wing, but most importantly, he can win faceoffs.
A trade for Lindholm and his 55% faceoff winning percentage would allow coach Bednar to move Compher to the right wing to try to fill the void left by the loss of Comeau. Winning faceoffs is not the be-all and end-all, but the Avalanche were really bad at it last season, so having Lindholm in the lineup would likely be welcomed whole-heatedly by the coaching staff.
He would be a very good option to replace Carl Soderberg when his contract expires in a couple years. Lindholm is an RFA next summer after making $2.70 this year and I suspect a trade for the young Swede wouldn’t be all that pricey.
This one might be wishful thinking, but Noah Hanifin’s name has actually been in the trade rumor mill for almost a year now. The 21-year old defenseman that was drafted 5th overall just three years ago would be a highly sought-after commodity. He is incredibly young and has improved each season in the NHL.
He has very good possession numbers, that are admittedly aided by a high oZone start%. Hanifin passes the eye test but more importantly, his underlying numbers look great - if he even had league average goaltending behind him they’d look even better.
As a left shooting defenseman that plays a second pair role in Carolina, Hanifin might not necessarily fill a hole in the Avalanche lineup. With that said, Coach Bednar showed last season that he wasn’t afraid to play Girard on the right side, so there is a way to work around the glut of left-shooting defensemen. A second pairing of Hanifin and Girard would be absolutely incredible in Denver.
An acquisition like this would give Joe Sakic the opportunity to seek out the long-rumored Tyson Barrie trade - a move that would likely net the Avalanche a very talented forward.
It may seem crazy to think that Carolina would be willing to move on from Hanifin already, but with an elite top pair of Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin and guys like Jake Bean and Hayden Flurey ready to step up to the next level, moving Hanifin might not be that crazy.
The problem with this one is that he’d likely be pretty expensive to acquire in a trade and the Avs might not have what it takes to get a deal done.