We are at the beginning of a very crucial off-season for the Carolina Hurricanes. After remaining in the Wild Card hunt well after trading Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles, the Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. However, with lots of promising, young talent as well as loads of cap space, optimism is flourishing in Raleigh as things are set up for an interesting summer.
This past season, the Hurricanes were pleasantly surprised by the emergence of their trio of young defensemen, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jacob Slavin. All three of them proved they can play heavy minutes at the NHL level. With those three rookies plus the likes of Hayden Fleury, Roland McKeown, and Trevor Carrick waiting in the wings the organization’s defensive depth is deeper than it has ever been. So, with new-found depth and budding stars is Justin Faulk now an expendable All-Star?
It is no secret that the Edmonton Oilers are in the market for a right-shooting defenseman to pair with Andrej Sekera. When Faulk and Sekera were teammates in Carolina they formed a solid top pairing, making Faulk an ideal target for the Oilers. Pair that with the fact that Faulk has developed further from his time with Sekera and things look even better should Edmonton make the swap. Coming back the other way, the Hurricanes could improve their team as well.
Edmonton has plenty of young forwards – some would say too many young forwards. Jordan Eberle (3 years/$6 million AAV), Taylor Hall (4 years/$6 million AAV), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (5 years/$6 million AAV) all have contracts that the cap friendly Hurricanes could absorb. Along with those big three, the Oilers also have Nail Yakupov (1 year/$2.5 million) and Leon Draisaitl (1 year/$925,ooo) who could be centerpieces in a package coming back to Raleigh. Any of those five would inject much-needed offense into the Hurricanes lineup.
Another team, the New York Rangers, could be in the market for a right-shooting defenseman, as it is widely rumored that they will buyout the remainder of Dan Girardi’s contract. For the Rangers, things would be a bit trickier as they are right up against the cap, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
Are there other teams? Sure. Nearly every team would like to have a young puck-moving defenseman which places the ‘Canes in a position of power if they want to sell.
Coming off a season in which he tied the franchise record for goals scored by a defenseman and set the record for most power play goals in a season by a Hurricane, the value of Justin Faulk may never be higher. The All-Star needs to continue developing his defensive zone coverage and work on his getting stronger so that he can push people off the puck, yet his elite offensive skill set and puck moving acumen are ideal for today’s NHL.
Despite this, I still do not think the Hurricanes should trade Faulk unless they are absolutely blown away by a trade. If someone is willing to overpay for Faulk, considering the defensive depth of the organization, I believe the ‘Canes should listen. However, unless the deal is too good to turn down, the Hurricanes could be set on the back-end for the next half-decade – at the very least – if the keep Faulk with the three kids.