Getty Images

Hurricanes have much to do, but headed in right direction after blockbuster deal

2 Comments

There’s a long way to go to rebuild the Carolina Hurricanes into a contending hockey team, but they took a nice step in the right direction on Saturday.

The hockey world has had 24 hours to digest that five-player blockbuster trade on the second day of the 2018 NHL Draft — one that included defenseman Dougie Hamilton heading to the east coast once again and defenseman Noah Hanifin heading to Cow Town.

The verdict? That we won’t know for some time yet (as with any trade in its immediate infancy), but for a Hurricanes team desperate for a sheet of ice in the playoffs, the move certainly turned their aim in that direction.

Calgary got younger with 21-year-old Hanifin and 23-year-old Elias Lindholmbut the move broke up one of the league’s premier defense pairings in the process. Carolina added one-half of that pairing, and it seems more clear that the Hurricanes — who also used their second overall selection on Andrei Svechnikov earlier in the day — got better.

Worlds like “elite defenseman,” “career-year” and “highly-touted” were all uttered to help explain the three players — Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox, respectively — that Carolina snatched up in Saturday’s wheeling and dealing.

Not too shabby, right? The Hurricanes got immediate help on defense and forward with a quality prospect on the backend developing (if he eventually signs).

Winning trades has been something of a foreign concept when attached to Don Waddell during his tenure as an NHL general manager. His exploits as the GM of the Atlanta Thrashers meant years of needed repair after the team moved to Winnipeg in 2011, for instance.

So Saturday’s deal was a win-win for Carolina fans, who had to fear what Waddell might do to their team after being handed the reigns earlier this year.

“We’ve gone nine years missing the playoffs… we’re going to try to change up the culture a little bit,” Waddell said from the draft. “We feel that all three pieces are going to make our hockey club better not just today but going into the future.”

The Canes received a beefy, skilled defenseman in Hamilton who’s good for 40 points a year and can play big minutes. He’s also still just 25 and comes in at a nice price point at $5.75 AAV with three years left on that deal.

With Jaccob Slavin, captain Justin Faulk, Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk also in that rearguard, it became all the more formidable with the arrival of Hamilton.

Hamilton seems to carry around an aura of split opinion on his ability (and personality, apparently). But his underlying numbers suggest he’s among the best defenseman in the game. Elite, even.

Carolina also acquired fellow d-man Adam Fox in the deal, a promising 20-year-old prospect who’s been showing great signs playing at Harvard in the NCAA.

And they got Micheal Ferland, a physical terror on the ice who found his scoring punch this past season with 21 goals.

(It should be noted that Bill Peters — now the coach in Calgary — coached Hanifin and Elias Lindholm in Carolina. He knows the duo like the back of his hand.)

What’s next?

This bit is critical now.

With one issue squared away, the Hurricanes can now turn to other areas that need addressing.

The futures of the aforementioned Faulk (UFA ’20) and Jeff Skinner (UFA ’19) need attention, of course. Both have been churning in the rumor mill and would likely command a nice haul in return. Keeping Faulk in that now-formidable backend might seem like a no-brainer. Or maybe not…

If Faulk is expendable, then he’d be best used in a deal that shores up Carolina’s most pressing issue — its goaltending.

Scott Darling hasn’t worked out and Cam Ward isn’t coming back.

With Philipp Grubauer going to Colorado (perhaps, in part, by design), the list of unrestricted free agent goaltenders capable of being starters is slim at best.

Carter Hutton has shown flashes, as has Anton Khudonbin (who already had one stint in Carolina). With Grubauer out of the picture, those are the two best options with UFA status

Skinner and/or Faulk could be the carrot dangled in a potential move that would see a goalie in return and Waddell told reporters in Dallas on Saturday that he intends on landing a netminder.

A trade involving either could also be used to help Carolina find a left-handed defenseman. They have a glut of right-hand shots now with the arrival Hamilton and the departure of Hanifin on the backend, so perhaps something that turns Faulk into another top LHD helps Waddell pull the trigger.

For the moment, Hurricanes fans can rest on the fact that their team got better over the weekend. And they can hope that the direction from this weekend will filter down into next when the free agency window opens up on July 1.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Flames ‘haven’t been able to find something’ with still-unsigned Ferland

11 Comments

Calgary power forward Micheal Ferland, who broke out during last year’s stirring playoff run, is still without a new contract just weeks away from the start of training camp.

But according to Flames GM Brad Treliving, the only two things holding up the deal — how much Ferland will make, and how long it will be.

(So everything, basically.)

“Just money and term, that’s all,” Treliving said, per the Calgary Sun. “We’ll bang away. We haven’t been able to find something that both sides nod on yet, but we’ve still got some time.”

Ferland, 23, made his NHL debut last season and fared well, scoring two goals and five points in 26 games. But it was in the opening round of the playoffs when he really made his mark — against Vancouver, Ferland delivered six games’ worth of ferocious hits and finished with two goals, four points and the reputation as a fearsome forechecker.

The WHL Brandon product made $797,500 annually on his entry-level deal, which expired in July.

Civil lawsuit against Flames’ Ferland dropped

Calgary forward Micheal Ferland, who enjoyed a breakout performance in April’s playoff win over Vancouver, is no longer facing a civil lawsuit stemming from an incident outside of a bar in July 2012.

More, from the Globe and Mail:

Legal firm Ruttan Bates says Jayson Eyma has dropped a civil lawsuit against Ferland over a scuffle outside a bar.

The law firm says Ferland has dropped a counterclaim in which he was seeking damages for the fight and for malicious prosecution.

Eyma had alleged that Ferland sucker-punched him in the face, fracturing a bone that required surgery.

Ferland, who was acquitted of criminal charges, has always said he was defending himself, his aunt and his girlfriend from an unprovoked attack.

His lawyers say he did not make any settlement payment.

Ferland, 23, made his NHL debut this season with Calgary, scoring two goals and five points in 26 games.

Against the Canucks, he quickly made a name for himself with thunderous hits and tenacious forechecking; all told, he finished the postseason with three goals and five points in nine games, including a three-point effort in the series-clinching Game 6 win over Vancouver.

Flames’ injuries revealed following second round exit

10 Comments

On Tuesday the Calgary Flames did their final formal media availability prior to going their separate ways for the summer.

The Flames were bounced in five games of the second round after surprising many by even qualifying for the postseason.

The toll of making the playoffs, and then dispatching the Vancouver Canucks in six games of the first round, did number on the Flames injury-wise and on Tuesday the laundry list was revealed.

“There’s a lot of guys who put a lot into it really banged up and played with a lot of stuff,” GM Brad Treliving said per The Calgary Sun. “That’s just how it is. They’ve got to play through that stuff. I thought they did a marvelous job.”

Among the injured was center Sean Monahan. The 20-year-old, who had three goals and six points in 11 playoff games battled a groin issue along with a back injury.

“I had a sore leg for a little bit and a couple other bumps and bruises but nothing too severe,” said Monahan downplaying his ailments.

Jiri Hudler, the club’s regular season points leader, had neck and back problems stemming from hits he took prior to the playoffs.

Defenseman T.J. Brodie played on a sprained ankle suffered on March 5 against Boston.

Micheal Ferland suffered a torn oblique muscle in the Flames’ Game 4 victory over the Canucks.

Josh Jooris had a wrist injury for much of the second half of the season.

Paul Byron, who hadn’t played since March 27, has already had surgery for a sports hernia. He also had a procedure done on his wrist and a broken toe.

Joe Colborne suffered a thumb injury on a slash from Brad Richardson during the Vancouver series. He also has a lingering wrist tendon issue, which he’ll get looked at by a specialist in Vancouver.

Lance Bouma, who returned for the final two games of the playoffs, revealed he had eight screws and a plate put into a shattered finger after he blocked a shot on April 7.

Related: Giordano extension ‘No. 1′ priority for Flames; decision pending on Ramo

Ducks power play strikes to push Flames to brink of elimination

10 Comments

In what was a physical, chippy game on Friday, an undisciplined penalty proved costly for the Calgary Flames, who are now facing elimination.

At the end of the second period, Flames forward Joe Colborne got his stick up on Francois Beauchemin while trying to finish his check, resulting in a four-minute power play for the Ducks. And the Anaheim power play made Colborne and the Flames pay.

Just 1:11 into the third period, Matt Beleskey scored on that power play to give the Ducks the lead. That goal stood as the winner. Anaheim went on to win by a final score of 4-2, taking a 3-1 series lead.

“Frustrating,” Colborne told Sportsnet.ca. “Just trying to (walk) that line of being physical. I’m not going to comment on whether I liked (the call) or not, but that’s on me. I definitely let the boys down there.”

The Flames, who were also unsuccessful on a five-on-three power play in the third period when they were trailing by a goal, entered this series as the underdog. They’ll now need a massive comeback — they made a habit of doing that in third periods during the regular season — if they are to have any chance of getting back into this.

After falling behind a goal less than four minutes into the game, the Flames wasted no time battling back. The first six minutes featured three goals, with Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland scoring 1:07 apart to give Calgary the lead.

The second period featured numerous turning points.

Frederik Andersen made a sprawling glove save on Johnny Gaudreau to keep it a one-goal game. It was a huge stop. Later in the period, Gaudreau was guilty of a turnover right in front of his own net, directly leading to Andrew Cogliano’s tying goal.

Game 5 goes Sunday in Anaheim.