As we near the 2018 NHL draft, we’re taking stock of where the Red Wings are in terms of assets, needs, and (most importantly) potential dance partners for trade speculation to occupy our minds, our time, and to satisfy that tiny piece of irrational fandom that thinks somebody in power in an NHL office is going to read this idea and go “holy shit that’s genius let’s do that but not credit those random internet people with the idea.”
Enter the Carolina Hurricanes.
This is a team that was looking very much like they could end up in a Winnipeg Jets mold of building a solid team in front of questionable goaltending, switching out the big weakness, and going on a tear. Lately however, the changes around the organization, including changing ownership, the removal of Ron Francis and Bill Peters’ leaving have led to a lot of questions about the direction of a team that finished 10 points ahead of Detroit in the standings but find themselves with the #2 overall pick this June.
As happens with teams in flux, this has the trade winds blowing up to a frenzy and Raleigh right at the eye of the storm. Of course, this is generally driven by fan speculation/boredom as much as anything, and our friends at Canes Country readily warn against that, as Brian LeBlanc writes in an article from Wednesday about the team’s collaborative method for our Hurricanes-based sister blog:
That type of two-way communication was a part of the old regime, and it seems likely to become even more prevalent over time in the new setup. For that reason, you can bet that the cottage industry of trade rumors that has popped up since Dundon’s pronouncement that no one on the roster is untouchable except Sebastian Aho is a good bit of smoke around not too much fire. There is no fire sale happening on Edwards Mill Road, and the Canes won’t allow themselves to be willingly fleeced on a deal that leaves them behind where they are now.
Keeping that in mind, we reached out to Brian to discuss what could make sense, since we’re both fans of teams that have room for improvement, have a bit in common, and have some pieces that might make sense. Heck, there has been speculation about the possibility of a Detroit/Carolina trade since February when Elliotte Friedman floated the idea of Andreas Athanasiou for Justin Faulk. Brian was kind enough to give us some perspective from the other side of the pretend trade table.
Detroit isn’t getting #2 overall
Tattoo that on your head if you need to, but we should start from this understanding from the get-go. I personally think the cost of moving up from 6 to 2 would be too high and Brian basically confirms that:
Larkin and Athanasiou plus #6
He did tell me that the pick isn’t necessarily NOT for sale, but the price tag is astronomically high. Carolina isn’t taking a bag of leftovers or a bunch of lower-value lotto tickets to pass on such a high pick for a team that could use such an impact player. Any GM who wants to be dumb enough to get fleeced to move up to #2 will be heard, but “That pick isn’t moving for some other team’s disappointing Puljujarvi type” says our colleague.
But... Uniting the Svechnikov brothers!
It would be so perfect if Jeff Skinner made sense in a trade here so I could say “there’s more than one way to Skinner cat,” but life isn’t always perfect. What might make sense though is that the Red Wings hold consensus #2 Andrei Svechnikov’s brother, and the time around his being drafted allows for a special intangible value addition to young Evgeny’s trade stock. This is more-helpful to the Wings right now, as Detroit’s Svechnikov is probably trading a little lower in value than his 19th-overall in 2015 draft pedigree.
So why not move Evgeny to Carolina so THEY can take the gamble on Sedin magic working for non-twins while Detroit tries to move laterally on their own rebuild timeline?
One issue Brian brings up is that the idea of a sizable scoring winger who probably projects out to sub-elite is something the Canes have already (not to mention that it would be something that could create a future logjam once they presumably add Andrei Svechnikov to the depth chart above those other scoring wingers). While this could complicate things, it doesn’t exactly shut the door.
The big deal
In talking about what makes sense, Brian did bring up that there is a bit of smoke around Noah Hanifin. The 5th overall pick in that same 2015 draft in which the Red Wings took Svechnikov. While obviously you’re not getting that one-for-one, but in including Andreas Athanasiou, it seems we struck a balance that was the right kind of uncomfortable for both sides. Detroit would be giving up two wingers who add scoring from a team that needs a lot more scoring while Carolina would be pulling the plug on an all-star defenseman to take a gamble on an unproven guy and an electrifying-but-inconsistent youngster.
To be perfectly honest, this is probably a deal that requires Detroit to throw in slightly more value, but there’s a decent chance that the extra intangible value of the Svechnikov brother connection doesn’t boot this off the table from the get-go.
Of course, there’s also the consideration that currently both Hanifin and Athanasiou are restricted free agents come July (Athanasiou with arbitration rights and Hanifin without), but both players are in a place right now where signing with the new team after such a deal shouldn’t be much of a problem.
What does Detroit get in this deal?
Noah Hanifin is a good player, but he’s also not the “missing piece” that’s going to bring the Red Wings back into contender status. His possession numbers for Carolina indicate that play (and expected goals) go the right way with him on the ice, although his plus/minus argues otherwise.
The danger here is that Hanifin’s good possession numbers are also bolstered by his heavy offensive-zone deployment and 2nd-pairing usage. Detroit has experience with a number of defensemen tasked with that role and Hanifin would certainly be an upgrade in that position, but questions remain whether he can be the true #1 all-purpose cornerstone piece that Detroit could use in order to stabilize a defense filled with guys being forced to play above their skill level. How much of Hanifin’s impressive numbers can be attributed to Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin munching the harder 5-on-5 and penalty kill minutes?
On the flip side, what is Detroit losing in scoring up front with both Athanasiou and Svechnikov gone in this deal? While Michael Rasmussen should be competing for a spot out of camp for the team, Detroit’s pipeline of scoring forwards is pretty bare, and dumping two of those from an offensively-challenged team only puts more pressure on the new guy to make up for it.
All-in-all, if a deal like this were to get made (and as a reminder, this is all fan blog speculation with no real reason to believe either side would consider it), you’ve got two sides agreeing to take an uncomfortable gamble with their assets... which sounds exactly like a hockey trade to me!
Would you trade Andreas Athanasiou and Evgeny Svechnikov for Noah Hanifin?
This poll is closed
Even if Detroit had to add at least another draft pick, yes