Scoring Forward Eludes Hurricanes

The dust has settled from the NHL Expansion Draft and the 2017 Entry Draft. As the various moves become clear, the Carolina Hurricanes remain without a proven, veteran scoring forward acquisition that would hint at the last few days being a success.

Quick ‘Canes Review

Much has been said and written about the offseason so far for the Hurricanes. GM Ron Francis made it clear at the end of the season press conference that he was going to make goaltending his first priority. He has successfully checked that box by trading for and signing former Chicago Blackhawk, Scott Darling, and adding goalie coach, Mike Bales from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Francis has been taking care of this and that while waiting for the opportunity to snag a scoring forward. For example, on Monday the Hurricanes announced that they have inked forward, Derek Ryan to a one-year deal. Francis, when announcing the $1.425 million deal for the 2017-18 season said,

Derek proved he belonged in the NHL last season. He brings skill and versatility to our lineup and sets an example for our younger players with his character and determination off the ice.

Ryan had 11 goals and 18 assists last season, a nice total, but still not what will be the difference-maker in making the playoffs.

Derek Ryan
Carolina Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

In addition to Ryan, the ‘Canes also signed Teuvo Teravainen to a two-year deal that will pay him $2.86 million each year. Teravainen, 22, is one of the young guns that is the hallmark of the Francis stable. He had 42 points in 81 games last season and has the potential to become a consistent scoring threat.

Replacing coaches in the video room and the training room are also things that Francis has taken care of in the past several weeks. Everything pointed to a big NHL Draft weekend.

Picks Made, but No Deals Done

As the draft approached, there was some anticipation that Francis might be able to parlay part of his quiver of picks into a legitimate scoring forward. He has proven in his three-year tenure, that he is thoughtful and strategic, and it would not have been a surprise if he’d managed to strike a deal. The surprise came as the chairs were being put away in Chicago’s United Center, and there was no deal to talk about, no praise or criticism to send Francis’ way. It was the Draft and he drafted and that was it.

With the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Hurricanes drafted center Martin Necas from the Czech Republic. Clearly, a player that will be a long-term project, largely due to his 6″1′, 178 lb. frame, the 18-year-old Necas should fit nicely with the team, albeit in the future.

Regarding the lack of trading partners, Francis was reported as saying,

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping to maybe take a few less picks. We had an awful lot of discussions in the last little bit about trying to move picks for players. They just didn’t pan out the way we hoped. At the end of the day when we couldn’t get anything done, we think we did a heck of a job drafting some good prospects.

Strangely enough, Francis was not alone as the trading activity was lackluster overall.

The next date circled on the calendar is Saturday, July 1. Free agency opens and Francis will be ready. With better than average cap space and a need to spend in order to reach the cap floor, if he is allowed to according to those with the checkbook, Francis can still add the missing piece or two that will heighten the Hurricanes’ chances of making the playoffs this coming season.