Nearly everything went right for Carolina this season. Their defence continued to be one of the league’s best, they boasted one of the deepest rosters in the NHL, and their starting goaltender of the future became their starter of the present in Alex Nedeljkovich.
Pain and disappointment didn’t occur in Carolina until their second-round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a normal year, that should have been a Conference Finals matchup anyways, but I digress...
As mentioned, part of the reason for Carolina’s success was because of their depth. That’s shown by the fact that the Canes will likely have a few intriguing players either go unprotected or test unrestricted free agency,
Here’s the Canes’ projected protected list, courtesy of Sara Civian at The Athletic.
- Sebastian Aho
- Teuvo Teravainen
- Jordan Staal
- Vincent Trocheck
- Andrei Svecknikov
- Nino Niederreiter
- Morgan Geekie
- Jaccob Slavin
- Brett Pesce
- Brady Skjei
- Alex Nedeljkovich
While the premise of this series focuses on trade targets, we’ll touch on a couple of the Hurricanes pending UFAs before we wrap up this list. Firstly, however, here are four intriguing Hurricanes players who will likely be unprotected.
2020-21 Stats: 53 GP, 10-10-20
Contract Status: RFA ($2.15 million to qualify)
Boasting players like Warren Foegele in the bottom six is a reason why the Canes have such enviable depth.
At even-strength over the last two seasons, Foegele has scored at a second-line rate, despite receiving primarily bottom-six minutes.
This is exactly the type of player that could provide surplus value in an elevated role. Hell, I’m willing to bet that if he were to join the Canucks, he could supplant Tanner Pearson’s spot as the second-line left wing.
Foegele will be 25 years old entering next season. He’s a spot-duty penalty killer and bottom-six winger with speed and size, who could be elevated in the line-up if need be.
Trade Value: For a player of Foegele’s calibre, you’d have to imagine that the Hurricanes would like to snag a second or a third-round pick. While he’s arguably one of the two most likely Hurricanes to be selected in the expansion draft, this isn’t a player that Carolina would want to lose.
2020-21 Stats: 46 GP, 6-13-19
Contract Status: Signed for two more seasons at a $2 million cap hit. (UFA in 2023)
If the Canucks want to target an older player at a lower acquisition cost, they might consider chasing Jesper Fast.
The 29-year-old winger has been a reliable bottom-six forward since breaking into the NHL full-time back in 2014-15. During his first year with the Hurricanes, he was on pace for 10 goals and 33 points over a full 82-games.
Fast can kill penalties, and he would provide the Canucks with better right-wing depth. Although he’s best used in a bottom-six role, Fast has averaged close to 16 minutes per game during his last three NHL seasons.
Trade Value: Fast might not cost as much to acquire as Foegele, but he’s still a valuable depth forward since he’s cost-controlled. The Canucks would still probably be looking at dealing a third or fourth-rounder to acquire Fast’s services.
2020-21 Stats: 45 GP, 2-6-8
Contract Status: Under contract for one more year at a $725,000 cap hit (expires as RFA)
The furthest thing from a household name on this list, Steven Lorentz was a seventh-rounder in 2015 who cracked the Canes roster full this past season.
He was the Canes’ most often used fourth-line centre this season behind their top three pivots of Aho, Staal and Trocheck. Lorentz also saw his responsibilities increase in the playoffs, as his average ice time jumped from 10:26 per game to 12:04.
Trade Value: Given the choice, would the Canucks be better off re-signing Sutter to be the fourth line centre, or should they look at acquiring a younger pivot like Lorentz? The 25-year-old doesn’t have a lot of penalty-killing experience, but he’s a cheap, viable fourth-line centre who shouldn’t cost more than a fifth-round pick to acquire. Like Fast, he’s also cost-controlled and signed to a reasonable cap hit for next season.
2020-21 Stats: 42 GP, 1-11-12
Contract Status: RFA ($874,125 to qualify)
Whether it’s from the Canucks or elsewhere, Jake Bean will garner some interest when he goes unprotected prior to the expansion draft.
The 13th overall selection in 2016 just completed his first full season in the NHL, playing largely in a sheltered, third-pairing role. He started off strong offensively with 11 points in his first 22 games, but had just a single assist over his next 20 games.
If Carolina does lose Hamilton this offseason, Bean could play a much larger role for the Canes in the ‘21-22 season if he remains with the organization.
Trade Value: It’s hard to see the Canucks trading for Bean at fair value. He’s likely still valued highly in the Canes organization and as mentioned, he could play a larger role for the team if he sticks around in Carolina next season.
Would it cost a second-round pick to pry Bean out of Carolina? Perhaps a swap for Olli Juolevi plus another middling asset if Carolina wants a different left-shot defenceman stylistically? Regardless, it’s tough to see the Canucks giving up assets for another unproven, young, left-shot defenceman.
Should Canucks target Canes’ UFAs instead?
Carolina has four notable players worth mentioning who are about to become unrestricted free agents.
- Dougie Hamilton...a bonafide top-pairing, right-shot defenceman that would immediately bolster Vancouver’s blueline...if only they could afford him.
- Brock McGinn. Solid third-line winger and one of Carolina’s top penalty killers. Looking for a raise as a UFA after making $2.1 million last season.
- Jordan Martinook. Plays a similar role to McGinn although he wasn’t as productive offensively. Made $2 million last season and should be in that ballpark once he signs a contract in free agency.
- Jani Hakanpaa. Journeyman right-shot Finnish defenceman played a depth role in Anaheim and Carolina this season. His underlying numbers with the Canes took a nosedive, which is a little troubling considering how good Carolina is in terms of dominating possession.
Of the eight aforementioned options, targeting Warren Foegele via trade might make the most sense for the Canucks. The gritty winger plays with pace and physicality, and he provides decent secondary scoring to boot. Only Niederreiter, Aho and Svechnikov had more even-strength goals than Foegele this season (10).
If the Canucks could deal a second or third-round pick to acquire Foegele, and sign him essentially to replace Jake Virtanen (multi-year deal at around $2.5 million), then you’ve basically acquired a player to solidify your third-line for the next number of seasons.
What do you think? Is Foegele the best fit for Vancouver among the players mentioned, or is there someone else you would target? Let us know in the comments below.
Which Canes player would you like to see the Canucks pursue?
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