Photo credit:© James Guillory - USA Today
Meet the Buyers: The Hurricanes will look for small additions
16 days ago
After a disappointing exit in the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2023 playoffs, this team may be looking to add.
This is Meet the Buyers, where we look at teams that are contenders for the Stanley Cup, and what they need to improve their chances. The Calgary Flames have two players – Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin – set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Moreover, the Flames could flip Andrei Kuzmenko or Yegor Sharangovich for a maximum return at this season’s deadline.
In this edition, we’ll take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes, along with their needs, their assets, and the cap situation of both teams.
The needs of the Carolina Hurricanes
According to Frank Seravali’s Daily Faceoff article released on Jan. 12 highlighting what each Eastern Conference team needs, he believes that the Hurricanes need to find value in whatever deadline move they make. He notes that the Hurricanes almost never make a big trade deadline deal, instead they trade for undervalued players.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the Hurricanes don’t have needs. For starters, the Hurricanes have used five goaltenders in 2023-24. Pyotr Kochetkov and Antti Raanta have both appeared in 23 games this season, with Kochetkov posting a .900 save percentage and 2.58 goals-against average. Raanta has struggled so far, with an .870 save percentage and a 3.04 goals-against average
They’ve also had six games from Frederik Andersen, who had an .894 save percentage and a 2.87 goals-against average before developing blood clots in early November. During the All-Star break, he was cleared to participate in on-ice workouts.
The Hurricanes also claimed Spencer Martin in January, and he’s only played one game saving 26 shots on 28 attempts. Yaniv Perets also played 13 minutes earlier this season.
Kochetkov is seen as inexperienced, only playing in five playoff games in his three-year career. Raanta is often injured and his play has also declined, going from a .910 save percentage in 2022-23 to an .870 save percentage this season. Who knows if Andersen will be back on the ice this season. Well, enter Jacob Markström.
This season, Markström has a .912 save percentage and a 2.60 record in 29 games played. Moreover, he has a 14-13-2 record and is a big reason why the Flames are even close to a playoff spot this season. Since returning from injury on Dec. 18, Markström has a .931 save percentage and an 8-5-0 record.
However, Markström’s is quite hard to move, as he has a cap hit of $6 million until the end of the 2025-26 season. To complicate matters even more, Markström has a no-move clause, meaning that for a deal to go through, he’d have to agree to it.
Could Flames’ backup Daniel Vladař be of interest to the Hurricanes? This season, Vladař has an .888 save percentage and a 3.27 goals-against average in 16 games played. The 26-year-old has been the Flames’ backup for three seasons at this point and has an .897 save percentage and a 2.93 goals-against average in 66 games played. He likely isn’t seen as an upgrade over Raanta, but he could be considered one of those “undervalued” players Seravalli mentioned.
Then you have their defence situation according to Daily Faceoff. Unlike most teams we’ve looked at in this series, it’s actually quite strong, with Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns on the first pair, Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce on the second pair, and Dmitry Orlov and Jalen Chatfield on the third pair.
However, it’s believed that the Hurricanes will try to trade Tony DeAngelo, a power play quarterback with a couple of 50 point seasons, to a team that needs an offensive defenceman. Could the Hurricanes then decide to trade for a defensive defenceman like Tanev to play on their third pairing?
Chatfield isn’t bad by any means, scoring four goals and 13 points and will blow by his career-high 14 points. According to Woodmoney, Chatfield has only played 135.3 minutes against elite players, or 22.4% of his ice time. Moreover, the Hurricanes have scored eight goals when he’s on the ice compared to allowing 13 goals for a 38.1% goal share against elites.
When you compare Chatfield’s numbers to Tanev’s, you see that Tanev is a clear upgrade. The Flames’ defenceman has played 309.1 minutes against elite competition, or 41.3% of his ice time. On top of that, the Flames have scored 16 goals while Tanev is on ice against elites, compared to just allowing seven goals for a 69.6% goal share, according to Woodmoney.
It’s also not like the Hurricanes haven’t added a defenceman when they didn’t really need too. Last season, they traded a third-round pick for Shayne Gostisbehere to fill in on the third pairing. A similar trade for Chris Tanev (albeit for a second plus another asset) could make the Hurricanes defence core even stronger.
What assets do the Carolina Hurricanes have to offer
The Hurricanes have one of the strongest farm systems out of any team in the series, as The Hockey Writers ranked them 12th heading into the season. Their top five prospects are Alexander Nikishin, Scott Morrow, Bradly Nadeau, Noel Gunler, and Felix Unger-Sörum.
Nikishin was their 69th-overall pick in the 2020 draft, and has played his entire career in the Kontinental Hockey League. With St. Petersburg SKA, the 22-year-old left-shot defenceman has 15 goals and 34 points in 48 games, surpassing his career-best in goals and trailing his career-best in points by just six.
Morrow was selected in the second-round of the 2021 draft, and has six goals and 23 points in his junior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The right-shot defenceman’s best season was his freshman year in 2021-22, where he scored 13 goals and 33 points in 37 games.
Nadeau was the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2023, and he’s scored 14 goals and 32 points in 24 games with the University of Maine. The 18-year-old left-wing is still several seasons away, but he’s within two points of the team lead, trailing just his brother who has 13 goals and 34 points.
Gunler is a right-winger playing with Oulun Kärpät in SM-Liiga, where he has five goals and eight points in 24 games. He played two seasons with the Chicago Wolves, where he had 11 goals and 23 points in 42 games. The Wolves and the Hurricanes ended their partnership, meaning that the Hurricanes don’t have an American Hockey League team, but still have an ECHL team. As you could imagine, Gunler decided to head back overseas instead of playing in the ECHL.
Unger-Sörum was selected in the second-round of the 2023 draft, and has two goals and 10 points in 23 games with Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League. The 18-year-old right-winger represented Sweden in the 2024 World Juniors and had a goal and six points in seven games en route to a silver medal.
According to Puckpedia, the Hurricanes have all their first and second round picks for the next three seasons. On top of that, they acquired the Philadelphia Flyers’ second-round pick in 2024 in a 2022 trade, where they traded DeAngelo to the Flyers, just for the Hurricanes to re-sign him after the Flyers bought him out.
The cap situation of both teams
The Hurricanes are one of only a few playoff contenders with actual cap space, as Puckpedia predicts that they’ll have $1,461,091 in projected cap space by the end of the season. As of Feb. 5, the Hurricanes have $3,790,939 in current space with no players on the long-term injury reserve.
As for the Flames, they have all three retention spots remaining, meaning they could package Tanev’s $4.5 million cap hit at 50% to get a greater return. There’s a lot more risk putting any retention on Markström’s $6 million cap hit though, and trading the netminder may be a summer move when more teams have cap room.
Although they haven’t been linked to Tanev, the Hurricanes made a similar move at the 2023 deadline when they moved a third-round pick for Gostisbehere. Could they make a move for Tanev to play him on their third pairing? Perhaps they’ll go big at this year’s deadline and attempt to trade for Markström.
Either way, there’s a fit between the Hurricanes and the Flames.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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