The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t doing horribly without defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but they do miss him. At a relatively mediocre 5-3-1 since Hamilton’s mid-January injury, the ninth-place Hurricanes are staying alive in the playoff race, but just barely. Reports have consequently emerged, saying they would consider moving one of their two projected 2020 first-round picks to get a worthwhile defenseman.
In this context, “worthwhile” implies a defenseman with a deal extending past this season. Taking that into consideration, here are the top three right-handed defensemen who could conceivably be acquired, are “worthwhile” fits and theoretically worth that draft choice.
3. Brandon Montour (Buffalo Sabres)
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen gets a lot of attention as trade bait and for good reason. He’s a 25-year-old, 6-foot-4, 220-pound former top-10 draft pick, with four consecutive 40-point seasons to his credit.
The problem is, despite old-school views to the contrary, analytics reveal a defenseman with major issues in his own zone. So, teammate Brandon Montour, who’s more of an analytics darling, may be the better option if the price is right.
Consider how Montour had been acquired by the Sabres for a first-round pick and a prospect (Brendan Guhle). So, one of the Hurricanes’ first-round selections might do the trick. The pending restricted free agent’s stock has nonetheless dropped since he was traded by the Anaheim Ducks, though. As a result, even if he might be a good fit, that pick seems a bit steep.
2. Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens)
There are two schools of thought in Montreal with regard to newly acquired Canadiens forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Do you trade him or keep him? Considering he’s a pending unrestricted free agent and the Habs are 10 points out entering action Friday night with Shea Weber now out, it shouldn’t be so complicated. And yet…
You can probably guess how much more complicated it gets when talking about the likes of leading-scorer Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry, both of whom are enjoying career seasons and under contract for another after this one.
Some suggest trading Petry (and/ or Tatar) would be akin to throwing in the towel for next season. Others still argue general manager Marc Bergevin would be a fool not to at least consider any offer they might receive between now and the trade deadline, even for Petry when his value is so high. A first-round pick in a notoriously deep draft should at least perk up his ears, but there are no guarantees Bergevin would ultimately take the bait.
1. Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild)
The Hurricanes have reportedly already looked into acquiring Minnesota Wild rearguard Matt Dumba and that’s good news. If true, they’re a sign GM Don Waddell has a good eye and isn’t looking to acquire just anyone.
Dumba is two seasons removed from a 50-point campaign in 2017-18, just 25 and quite frankly a defenseman out of whom any team in the league should be able to make good use. Combine those reports with Wild GM Bill Guerin’s willingness to trade right now, and it’s almost a perfect storm.
By most accounts, Guerin should hold on to Dumba. However, the same was arguably true of Jason Zucker and everyone just saw what went down, with him being dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. So, you’d have to believe Dumba could be made available too. However, Guerin got full value and maybe then some for Zucker. The first-rounder all on its own likely won’t it cut for Dumba, who’s worth much more.
So, Dumba should be Waddell’s man. It should no longer be a question of who but rather how much… and how badly do the Hurricanes want to make the playoffs?