As the clock approached 3 p.m. on Monday, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes felt something familiar: nothing. Despite the anticipation leading up to the day, like most of their Trade Deadlines of late, the team was inactive. A team that arguably still has holes to fill chose to wait until the postseason to make any significant moves.
Waddell: “We Made Our Big Trade”
Hurricanes general manager, Don Waddell met with the media after Monday’s deadline and started by thanking everyone for coming out to “a slow day in ‘Canes world.” Waddell may have been going for a lighthearted opening, but he was spot on.
With the exception of a minor league deal completed early in the day wherein the Hurricanes acquired left wing Tomas Jurco from the Florida Panthers in exchange for future considerations, and traded forward Cliff Pu to the Panthers for future considerations, there was no action in ‘Canes world.
Waddell noted that the Hurricanes had already made their big trade and therefore had no reason to be frantically trying to make moves at the deadline. “We made our one big trade a month ago,” he said. “We got Staal back last week. We really like this team. We like the culture that’s been built by Rod and in the locker room.”
Of course, the big trade Waddell was referring to was dumping the ever-slumping Victor Rask on the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Nino Niederreiter, who has made an immediate positive impact on the team. In the 16 games he’s played since joining the Hurricanes, he has scored nine goals and six assists for a total of 15 points. It could be argued that he is the primary reason why the team is still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Fans of the Hurricanes have been lamenting for years the lack of management and ownership’s willingness to pull the trigger on a trade that would bring a significant, scoring forward to the team. While Niederreiter may not have the star power of a Mark Stone, who was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights by the Ottawa Senators, or a Wayne Simmonds who was traded at the deadline to the Nashville Predators by the Philadelphia Flyers, he has a consistent record of offensive production, and is just what the Hurricanes needed.
Waddell: We like Our Team
In addition to Niederreiter, another player helping keep the ‘Canes in the hunt for a playoff spot is Micheal Ferland. Waddell said that he had conversations throughout the day with other teams about Ferland and he told them all that Ferland is an important part of the Hurricanes organization. Ferland is third on the team in goals with 16 and fourth in points with 33. His physical, determined play has lifted the team more than once this season, and those are contributions that do not make the stats line.
My sense on the Vegas Golden Knights. Plan A, Mark Stone; Plan B, Micheal Ferland. Having said that, the Hurricanes are wary of moving Ferland, concerned of affecting team chemistry in a playoff race. Ferland could be Carolina's own rental unless a team really steps up
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 25, 2019
Waddell said that they did not see a rental player available that could replace Ferland. Keeping him is the best move and has been all along. While he may be a rental for the Hurricanes, his chemistry with the team, that Waddell said is so vital right now, makes keeping him the best decision.
“We went into the day liking our team,” said Waddell. “And we’re going to end today liking our team just as much because of what the guys have been through and what they’ve accomplished.” What they have accomplished is turning a dismal December into the best record in the NHL since New Years’ Eve, as of a few days ago. They have put themselves squarely into the playoff chase, and essentially control their own destiny from now until the end of the season.
The Hurricanes have 20 games left and a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. With 72 points they are in the second wild-card spot, one point behind the Montreal Canadiens who have 73 points in the first wild-card spot, and the Columbus Blue Jackets who also have 73 points and hold the third Metropolitan Division playoff spot.
If the Hurricanes can maintain their momentum and chemistry, Waddell might have to wait a little later than mid-April to start talking with players like Ferland about their contracts. The team will be busy playing for a change.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.