Tag: James Wisniewski

Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes

It’s Carolina Hurricanes day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite changing their head coach and general manager, the 2014-15 season was more of the same for the Carolina Hurricanes.

For the sixth season in a row (and eight of their last nine campaigns), the Hurricanes failed to make the playoffs. Much like 2013-14, they were in the cellar of the East.

Granted, there are murmurs of hope; the Hurricanes subtly improved toward the end of the year and Carolina showed some signs of defensive improvement under head coach Bill Peters. Such patter sounds like baby steps in the grand scheme of things.

Despite some significant expenditures on that side of the puck, Peters identified scoring as a particularly glaring issue.

“We like where we are in terms of being able to take a step forward; it will depend on us having the ability to score,” Peters said, according to NHL.com. “We have to find a way to score more at 5-on-5.”

Off-season recap

GM Ron Francis faces tougher decisions soon, yet he was fairly busy this summer.

It was costly, but the organization cut ties with Semin via a pricey buyout.

In trading Anton Khudobin to Anaheim and acquiring Eddie Lack from Vancouver, Francis gives himself flexibility with Ward, as Lack could end up the No. 1 or even combine for a platoon situation. Swapping with Anaheim also netted an expensive upgrade to Carolina’s needy defense in James Wisniewski.

Optimists may cross their fingers that the Hurricanes will opt for a youth movement. Blueline prospect Noah Hanifin joins Elias Lindholm, Justin Faulk, Victor Rask and Ryan Murphy as intriguing young talents who aren’t in limbo like Jordan Staal or Jeff Skinner.


This time it really does feel like a fork-in-the-road season for the Hurricanes, even if it also seems like the organization has been procrastinating when it comes to making difficult (yet crucial) decisions.

Will things finally start to turn Carolina’s way in 2015-16?

Can the Blue Jackets justify their big spending?

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets

Much of the narrative surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets revolves around what this team can do with even a reasonably clean bill of health. It overshadows a key question, though: can they live up to the hype?

The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace shines a light on this situation, as the market isn’t accustomed to the Blue Jackets coming into a season with such aspirations.

So, Jackets fans ought to doff their cap to majority owner John P. McConnell. Whatever else one might say about the man, he has been willing to spend on talent. That is all one can ask of an owner. The rest is on management and on the players.

The first and last time the Jackets were a “cap team” was in 2011-12, after the big-ticket acquisitions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski. That team was a chic midsummer pick, too. Carter was a dog and begged out of town, but not before he poisoned the locker room. Then, Rick Nash asked for a trade for the (cough, cough) betterment of the franchise. That season was a disaster.

Interesting stuff, and it really does spotlight something many haven’t considered: the stakes are pretty high for this edition of the Blue Jackets.

Married to some pricey players

The Blue Jackets are under pressure to show that this roster will be competitive both in 2015-16 and in the future, as a ton of their contracts are hefty and long-term.

Brandon Saad ($6 million), Brandon Dubinsky ($5.8M), Nick Foligno ($5.5M), David Clarkson ($5.25M) and Scott Hartnell ($4.75M) all boast contracts that run through 2018-19 or later. Sergei Bobrovsky ranks as one of the NHL’s most expensive goalies with his $7.425 million cap hit. Ryan Johansen’s a huge steal right now at a $4 million mark, but a big upgrade is looming as his deal expires after the 2016-17 campaign.


Long story short, the picture is pretty clear. The injury angle screams “plenty of room to improve,” yet the Blue Jackets aren’t exactly in a place where they have nothing to lose.

In fact, the franchise might not be able to afford another disappointing season, lucky or not.

Will Carolina fill defensive openings on UFA, trade markets?

Justin Faulk

The Carolina Hurricanes have just four defensemen signed with at least 100 games worth of NHL experience. That makes their blueline a major question mark going into training camp, but even as we near the end of July, there are still plenty of options out there for teams looking to bolster their defense.

For example, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson are both still available on the open market. There’s also presumably cheaper options out there like Andrej Meszaros and Jan Hejda.

“There’s been some dialogue with some guys, but we’re still sitting and waiting to see where the numbers go,” Hurricanes GM Ron Francis told the News & Observer. “The guys we’ve talked about are not in a range we’d be comfortable with yet, so we’re keeping an eye on it. I’m not in a hurry to jump in.”

Francis added that as more arbitration eligible players either get judgments or otherwise sign, more players might be made available. Additionally, Jeff Skinner is still reportedly on the block, so Carolina might end up making a more substantial trade before the summer is done.

All that being said, Francis sees some appeal in maintaining the status quo.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have a spot open going into camp,” Francis said. “It sends a good message to our younger guys.”

With James Wisniewski, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, and Ron Hainsey all presumably locks to make the roster, that would leave 2015 fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy, Danny Biega, Michal Jordan, Rasmus Rissanen, and Haydn Fleury to compete for the final three openings.

Trade: Bieksa headed to California — but it’s Anaheim, not San Jose

Kevin Bieksa

The Vancouver Canucks have finally moved veteran d-man Kevin Bieksa — but not to the team many expected.

On Tuesday, Bieksa was sent to Anaheim in exchange for a second-round pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The deal comes just days after a widely-circulated report claimed the 34-year-old rearguard was on his way to San Jose, only for the deal to be scuttled during the draft weekend in Florida.

In Bieksa, the Ducks get an experienced rearguard is heading into the last of a five-year, $23 million deal with a $4.6M annual cap hit. In his prime, Bieksa was a key piece of Vancouver defense, cracking the 40-point plateau three times while developing a reputation as someone that played with an edge. He’s also known for his leadership qualities, having served as an alternate in Vancouver, and as a Canada’s captain at the 2015 Worlds.

That said, Bieksa has seen better days.

Last season was a struggle; a broken hand limited him to just 14 points in 60 games and his lack of foot speed and mobility were exposed in Vancouver’s opening-round playoff loss to Calgary.

In Anaheim, Bieksa will be reunited with former Vancouver teammate Ryan Kesler and will step onto a blueline that has some uncertainty; Ducks GM Bob Murray flipped little-used James Wisniewski to Carolina at the draft, and has yet to decide if he’ll return veteran Francois Beauchemin (this deal suggests Beauchemin is done in Orange County.)

The club also recently bought out Mark Fistric.


— The pick heading to Vancouver is interesting. It’s believed the Canucks thought they were getting a ’15 second-rounder from the Sharks, only to learn a ’16 second-rounder was on the table… the same pick Anaheim gave.

Per TSN, it sounds like Bieksa’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is working on an extension with the Ducks.

— This is the second significant deal Canucks GM Jim Benning has done with Murray in as many years, having sent Kesler to Anaheim last summer.

UFA of the Day: Mike Green

Calgary Flames v Washington Capitals

Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Mike Green

Leaving Washington isn’t what he wants to do; however, it was reported last week that that’s what he’ll probably do.

Green is coming off a productive season with the Caps, one in which the 29-year-old defenseman finished with 10 goals and 35 assists. Also notable was his ice time. He averaged just 19:06, considerably less than the 22:44 he logged in 2013-14, before Washington signed Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.

There’s reason to believe his first choice will be a team with a reasonable shot at winning a championship, something he failed to do in seven postseason appearances with the Caps.

“I want to win the Cup,” he said in May. “It’s not about money.”

The challenge he’ll face is finding a contender with both the need and the cap space.

“I think players of Mike’s ability, age, productivity, right shot, all of the positive things that Mike does on the ice is very rare when they get to unrestricted free agency,” his agent, Craig Oster, told the Washington Post.

Detroit has long been rumored as a potential landing spot. However, it’s worth noting that, in February, Red Wings GM Ken Holland said that adding a right-shot d-man for the power play no longer seemed necessary, given his team was doing just fine with the man advantage. Also, it was Mike Babcock who pushed Holland the hardest for more right-shot defensemen, and you may have heard he’s not there anymore.

If not Detroit, who might take a run at Green?

One team that may make sense is Anaheim. The Ducks are coached by Bruce Boudreau, who knows Green well from their time together in Washington. The Ducks also struggled on the power play last season, finishing 28th in the league. Plus, they cleared some cap space by trading James Wisniewski.

Click here for more UFAs.