Hurricanes News & Rumors: Wolves, Necas & Another Brind’Amour Snub

The offseason is officially upon us, as the Colorado Avalanche took down the reigning two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games in the Stanley Cup Final. We were treated to a heck of a postseason in 2022, but, unfortunately, the end means the long, three-month stretch of no hockey has arrived. Still, we do get to enjoy two of the most exciting events for NHL news in the Entry Draft and free-agent period, along with the trade season that accompanies them. Incidentally, the offseason already sees a fascinating trade market shaping up, as names such as Alex DeBrincat, JT Miller, and Jakob Chychrun have been thrown around already. That’s not to mention some expensive veterans on transitioning teams who could be on the move, like Patrick Kane, Mark Scheifele, and Vladimir Tarasenko.

For the Carolina Hurricanes, eager to take the next – and most difficult – step from a young, skilled team to a true contender, there is definitely a ton to watch for this summer from a roster building standpoint. On that front, some news has already popped up about a talented young player who is struggling to make good on his potential in Raleigh. Not only is that covered in today’s “News & Rumors”, but we’ll also talk about the organization seeing some exciting developments down on the farm, and some frustrating news from the Hockey Hall of Fame… again.

Wolves Win Calder Cup

For the second consecutive year in which COVID didn’t wipe out the American Hockey League (AHL) Playoffs, the Hurricanes’ affiliate is the champion, as the Chicago Wolves finished off the Springfield Thunderbirds to take home the Calder Cup. Spearheaded by one of the AHL’s best players in Andrew Poturalski, plus a couple veterans of 200-plus NHL games such as playoff MVP Josh Leivo and Stefan Noesen, the Wolves truly ran roughshod over the rest of the field. It took them just 18 games to net the 14 wins necessary to take home the championship. Leivo, Noesen, Jack Drury, and Poturalski finished one, two, three, and four in AHL playoff scoring, all with at least 23 points.

Stefan Noesen Chicago Wolves
Stefan Noesen, Chicago Wolves (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

It wasn’t just the “old guys” (plus Drury), though, as plenty of the more traditional prospects such as defensemen Joey Keane, Jesper Sellgren, and Jalen Chatfield, and forwards Jamieson Rees, Vasili Ponomarev, and Noel Gunler had flashes of brilliance throughout the playoffs. The trio of defensemen seem particularly close to being able to contribute at the NHL level. For the highly-talented three forwards – all of whom were selected within the top 53 in their respective draft years – they are likely headed back to Chicago in the fall unless something unforeseen happens. They figure to step into bigger roles next year, which will be the first full professional years in North America in the cases of the two Europeans. The experience they gained during this spring and early summer will surely prove to be invaluable moving forward.

These successes continue to prove how well-run of an organization has been built in Carolina. From the draft, minors and player development, to a consistent playoff contender at the top level, things have been going quite smoothly for a few years now. Creating a stellar AHL environment which has developed a penchant for winning can only do positive things for players preparing to step into the NHL.

Necas a Trade Piece… for a Defenseman?

On TSN’s “Insider Trading”, analyst Pierre Lebrun reported that a multitude of teams are calling the Hurricanes about speedy, playmaking winger/center Martin Necas. This on it’s own is far from a surprise, as the restricted free agent (RFA) has struggled to find his footing in the new-look Hurricanes top six. He probably had his worst year of his career in his contract season, which is obviously an unfortunate development. In the postseason, more often than not, it looked like the former first-round pick’s days in the organization were numbered.

The surprising aspect, though, is Lebrun’s revelation that the Hurricanes could actually be enticed by a young defenseman, not the high-end goal scorer most expect the team to covet. Few likely expected the Hurricanes to be on the lookout for a defenseman, especially after the previous rumors that Tony DeAngelo and the Hurricanes were both looking to figure out an extension (from “Will Hurricanes, polarizing defenseman Tony DeAngelo extend relationship? What they said”, The News & Observer, 6/2/22).

Martin Necas Carolina Hurricanes
Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Bringing back the offensive defenseman would mean the entire top-four returns, while the team also has another RFA in Ethan Bear under control, for now – though the team granting him permission to speak to other teams could mean the underused defenseman could be destined for his third team in a barely over two years. When the aforementioned trio of Wolves defensemen are factored in, too, it doesn’t seem like the defense is a desperate enough need to trade away a key piece to acquire it. Chatfield is especially notable here, as the 26-year-old is on a one way deal for 2022-23.

Related: Hurricanes Prospect Jack Drury is Generating Lots of Buzz

As the team is competing for the now, it makes little sense to trade a current player for a future one. So, this could mean one of two things: the Hurricanes and DeAngelo are perhaps further apart than expected in their negotiations, and the team could be beginning to pivot and look at other options, or the Hurricanes are going to trade one of the more talented pieces on their roster for a bottom-pair-at-best player, which seems… strange. Necas is likely the team’s best trade chip (depending on how other teams evaluate what they’re willing to offer, anyway). With the other needs mentioned, it seems there is a missing piece here. As close as the team always plays it to the vest, though, this isn’t the most surprising thing.

Brind’Amour, Once Again, Not a Hockey Hall of Famer

The 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class was announced on Monday, as goaltender Roberto Luongo, his former Vancouver teammates and twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin, longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, and highly-decorated Finnish women’s hockey star Riika Sallinen got the call. Herb Carnegie was also inducted as a builder, Willie O’Ree’s predecessor who set the stage for the Boston Bruins legend to break the color barrier in 1948. All of those players have great stories, and their admissions aren’t what I mean to dispute here. What I do mean to dispute is, how in the world has Rod Brind’Amour – closing in on a decade of eligibility – still not been inducted?

The former Hurricanes captain played in 1,484 games, scored 452 goals, and assisted on another 732. He also had six 70-point seasons, and his 1,184 points have him just outside the top 50 all-time. He won three awards, and was the captain of the Stanley Cup-winning 2006 Hurricanes, when he easily could have won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP (team-high 12 goals, most of them at massive times). The accolades, awards and stats are nice, but they still don’t truly tell the story of the impact Brind’Amour had on the NHL. He dominated the faceoff circle, played the game the hard way, and took as much pride in dominating opposing top players as he did contributing offensively himself. Hell, he was probably better in his own end than he was offensively; how many 1,000-plus-point players can you say that about?

Rod Brind'Amour
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes (THW Archives)

Then, compare those numbers to Henrik Sedin – a perfectly fine admission to the Hall, both considering his NHL and international successes. Still, Brind’Amour played in 154 more games, nearly doubled his goal total, and had 114 more points. Oh, by the way, there’s that whole “captain of the 2006 Stanley Cup champions” thing, a feat Henrik, nor brother Daniel, accomplished. Another tidbit for you, did you know he averaged over 24 minutes per game in that Cup-winning 2006 season? That’s utterly absurd for any forward, much less a 35-year-old who played the way Brind’Amour did.

Ultimately, for “Rod the Bod”, it’s just sort of an “oh well” situation. He has bigger fish to fry as a young head coach with a so-far-stellar track record. To that end, I suppose, if they won’t let him in as a player, maybe he’ll just have to wait to get in as a coach.

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