The 2012 NHL playoffs have certainly been unpredictable with many “favorites” unexpectedly sent home after just the first round. We’ve seen the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, Boston Bruins, eliminated by the Washington Capitals – who entered as an underdog (not among the top four for the first time in four – years.) The back – to – back President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks fell to the Los Angeles Kings, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs back – to – back. The Detroit Red Wings, perhaps hockey’s last dynasty team, were unexpectedly ousted by the Nashville Predators – who are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. Evgeni Malkin (who led all NHL players in regular season points) and Sidney Crosby (perhaps the NHL’s biggest star at the moment) couldn’t help the Pittsburgh Penguins (a cup contender) past the Philadelphia Flyers. Plus we saw the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks (both primed with talent) make first round exits, obviously disappointing and underachieving.
These early exits, potentially, open the door to teams being willing to trade away some of their players – which is good news for the Hurricanes. Some of these teams (the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, and Chicago Blackhawks) aren’t likely going to trade the type of piece(s) that the Hurricanes will be looking for this season. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, and San Jose Sharks could all be willing to move a player that the Hurricanes could have interest in.
For the first time in two year Carolina Hurricane fans will be looking forward to the NHL free agency period, and for good reason.
“Based on my conversation with (Hurricanes owner) Mr. (Peter) Karmanos, we’ve talked about a top-line player. He agrees that that’s something we want to do. Not what we’ve done in the past with free agents, where we go to the second-tier free-agent group, or the third tier or the fourth tier, but a top-line player. If it’s available by free agency or trade, we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen this year.” – Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford.
This is what Hurricane fans want to hear, especially since we won’t get to see the Hurricanes in the post season once again. Unfortunately the players the Hurricanes will be targeting are also players that most other teams will be targeting, and the talent pool isn’t that deep. But the team is willing to spend the money, or make the trade, to bring in a top tier free agent forward, so let’s look who might fit the bill.
I put very little stock in the suggestion / rumor circulating the web that the San Jose Sharks would be willing to move Patrick Marleau, who they drafted back in 1997 NHL entry draft. But due to the fact that he [Marleau] didn’t immediately shoot down the notion of not – waiving his no trade clause, it opens the tiniest possibility of this scenario becoming a reality.
“We’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes up,” Patrick Marleau said when asked if he would be open to exploring other options if approached by the general manager.
But for the sake of this post, I’ll be running off the premise that the San Jose Sharks are open to moving Patrick Marleau, and that he’d agree to waive his NTC to play with the Carolina Hurricanes. I would have to imagine that the Hurricanes 1st round draft pick, like most trade scenarios I’ve proposed, would have to be in play and be the Hurricanes biggest bargaining chip. Along with the teams draft pick, the Hurricanes also have a surplus of young forwards and defensemen (which is another big chip they have to bargain with) and current roster players that they could offer to the Sharks. The Hurricanes have a lot of combinations they could offer up.
Patrick Marleau [measurements – Height: 6’2’’ / Weight : 220lbs], is a bit older than what the Hurricanes were looking for (a mid – twenty aged player), going on 33 before next season starts. But he’s still one of the best players the Hurricanes could target, over the last for years he’s managed to score 30 or more goals in each season. Marleau has also been one the Sharks top two power play goal scorers over the past four years, has only failed to reach the 70 point plateau twice since the last NHL lockout, and has led the Sharks in game – winning goals in the past three of the four years. Despite being a winger, Marleau has been able to hold 50% or better faceoff record since 2006 – 07, and obviously has shown he’s still a gamer.
Patrick Marleau also has the type of “character” that the Carolina Hurricanes pride themselves in acquiring. He seems to be loved within his own locker room (from an outsider’s perspective) and was even a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy in the 2005 – 06 season. He’s been a captain, and currently wears the “A”, for the San Jose Sharks and has over 1100 NHL regular season (and 120 playoff) games worth of experience to bring along with him.
This is totally a hypothetical scenario, but after once again failing in the playoffs, the Sharks may just be up to listening to offers for Marleau.
Alex Burrows, 31, Left Wing
The Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their league leading season to become back – to – back Presidents Trophy winners, yet are once again going home empty handed. The Canucks have been bombarded with trade talk surrounding their All – Star netminder (Roberto Luongo), and even their best two – way forward (Ryan Kesler) has had his name pop up in rumors, but I think Alex Burrows is an interesting name to the Hurricanes organization.
Let me preface by saying I haven’t heard Alex Burrows mentioned in any trade rumors, I’m just saying that if the Vancouver Canucks choose to shake up their forward roster, Alex Burrows could potentially offer a big return for the Canucks who wouldn’t be mortgaging their future by shipping him off. The undrafted, Ball Hockey League hall of famer, has put up 26 or more goals in the past four seasons. Alex Burrows is a pesk, an agitator, he’ll get under your skin – and he brings an element to the Carolina Hurricanes that they don’t currently have employed.
Now I’ll agree that a case can be made that Alex Burrows’ numbers are inflated because he’s able to play with the Sedin twins (anyone remember Anson Carter?) But the Hurricanes are looking for a guy to play with Eric Staal – if Burrows can bury the chances set up by Staal, and can continue to produce at a 25+ goal season, and then there is some reason to support the idea of trying to acquire him.
I don’t think that Burrows is anywhere near the top of the Hurricanes “wish list”, but because of what he’s been able to do offensively over the past four years – and because he under contract next season for just $2.0 Million (which I know would appeal to the Hurricanes organization), Alex Burrows could become a more interesting name after the big names (e.g. Zach Parise) are taken off the block.
It’s hard to say what the Canucks would want in return for Burrows. I doubt the Hurricanes would have to offer their first round draft pick (and doubt they would for Alex Burrows), but perhaps a second round pick and a guy like Joni Pitkanen would be enough to entice the Canucks management. Burrows is a short – term solution, if he doesn’t work out he’s contract runs out after next season so you’re not locked in long – term, but if he finds similar success in Carolina as he has in Vancouver then you can negotiate a longer deal at much cheaper (again something the Hurricanes organization would appreciate) than a guy like Parise or another 6+ million dollar guy.
Jordan Staal, 23, Center
Do a search on the web and in a matter of seconds you’d be able to find trade rumors surrounding the young Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal. However, like Patrick Marleau, I have some serious doubts that the Penguins would trade their former 2nd overall draft pick (who’s just 23 years old.)
However a lot of people are using future salary cap circumstance as the premise for their trade scenario. Along with Jordan Staal, the Pittsburgh Penguins have Sidney Crosby’s contract to renegotiate at the end of next season (both become Unrestricted Free Agents.) It’s certainly feasible that the Penguins can lock up these players too long term deals (which I’m assuming both players would be looking for), but the Penguins also have to consider future expiring contracts. In two – years from now, Evgeni Malkin will become an Unrestricted Free Agent. Malkin has already put up 100+ points in three out of the six seasons that he’s played with the Penguins, it’s not unreasonable to think he’d be looking at 8+ million a season. The Penguins will also have Kris Letang (a former Norris Trophy finalist), and Brooks Orpik’s contracts to deal with.
So perhaps moving Staal now, isn’t a farfetched idea.
This past season Jordan Staal but up his best point total (25 goals, 25 assists) despite only playing 62 games. But the case can be made that when you look at his total body of work, Jordan Staal has underachieved since being taken with the 2nd overall pick. With that said however, Jordan Staal is still learning and fine tuning his game and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe that any season now he could just break out and take over offensively.
While the Hurricanes organization expressed interest in acquire a winger, not another center, I believe that an exception would be made if they had the opportunity to land the younger brother of their franchise player (Eric Staal.) The free – agent market for wingers is weak this season, if they didn’t lock up a winger for Eric Staal, bringing in a Jordan Staal (a center) would also address a need for this team (Rutherford saying he believed that Jeremy Welsh could be a top three center for the Hurricanes next season didn’t inspire much confidence in me.)
*It should go without saying that I have no insider knowledge, this is just coming from a fan of team talking about his favorite team, feel free to agree or disagree at the bottom
- Top Flight Forwards - A list of big name players the Carolina Hurricanes could target this offseason. You could add this bunch to the list.
- From the frozen four to the final game - Find out who Jeremy Welsh is…
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