With the signing of Jake Gardiner by the Carolina Hurricanes, there are one of two schools of thought racing around the Internet Friday afternoon. The first is that the Carolina Hurricanes now have one of the defensive corps in the NHL. The second is that Justin Faulk has become expendable.
Within minutes of the news dropping that the Hurricanes had added offensively-gifted left-handed d-man Gardiner, right-handed and offensively-gifted d-man, Faulk, was in the news as a possible trade candidate out of Carolina. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman wrote, “With CAR’s signing of Jake Gardiner, there is uncertainty about the future of Justin Faulk. Let’s see where this goes.”
Hurricanes to Trade Faulk?
While Friedman wasn’t the only one to suggest Faulk might be on the block now, Adam Gold, Radio host/Adam and Joe Show on 99.9 The Fan in Raleigh, wrote, “He [Faulk] has a no-trade clause, so it becomes complicated. Not impossible, but complicated.” He added, “Bottom line is that Faulk is still really good and they’re not better without him than they are with him.”
This is true, but it doesn’t mean the Hurricanes won’t look at improving their forward depth, especially now that they know former captain Justin Williams is not returning — at least in the immediate future. The Hurricanes now have cap issues that need to address. This only adds fuel to the trade-Faulk fire.
Oilers a Good Fit for Carolina?
Meanwhile, in Edmonton, the Oilers are looking for a trade partner. Jesse Puljujarvi is in Finland playing with Karpat and, while that league might not be up to snuff in terms of NHL quality competition, he’s playing well. The better he plays, the more teams might be interested in acquiring his services.
The Carolina Hurricanes were rumored to be already interested.
This is hardly a slam-dunk type of trade. First, if there was mutual interest in this type of deal, Faulk has a no-trade clause which means he’d need to waive it to come to the Oilers. Second, Oilers GM Ken Holland would have to be ok with trading a fourth-overall draft pick for an offensive d-man who has only one year left on his current deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Up to this point, Holland has been hesitant to make that type of deal.
The Oilers Ask for Puljujarvi
Holland has said he wants a high-end prospect and a draft pick or an NHL-ready player who can contribute now and has term left on his deal. Faulk can certainly contribute, but he may not stick around.
Part of the problem in trading Puljujarvi has been that Holland simply won’t give him away. If Faulk were to entertain coming here and the Oilers were to entertain acquiring him, there might be a need to chat extension first. Even then, that offers no guarantees as Faulk isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess. Would Faulk be a shiny enough ticket to get Holland to reconsider what he’s willing to trade Puljujarvi for?
The Salary Cap Question
Finally, there is the issue of the salary cap. Faulk isn’t a hefty contract, but he’s certainly not an inexpensive one. At $4.83 million for one more season, the Oilers would have to juggle some salary considering they have just over $1.5 million in cap room to make a move.
What exactly would that move be? Could the Oilers send away another d-man with a bit of salary in the deal? That then begs the question of how big the trade becomes. Carolina can’t take on salary and moving Faulk, would, in part, be to relieve the team of some financial commitments. The Oilers would need to dump a player in another way.
There are positives and negatives to a trade like this for the Oilers but there certainly isn’t a reason to suggest this move is a given. A ton of moving pieces make this trade tricky, assuming the Hurricanes want to move Faulk, that Faulk wants to come to Edmonton and that Holland would be willing to move Puljujarvi to acquire him if the answer to those first two questions were ‘yes’.