RALEIGH — The big names are coming fast and furious now: Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, maybe even Jordan Staal.
For years, the Carolina Hurricanes sat in the corner and watched as NHL stars changed addresses, never willing to sit at the high-limit table. They’re sitting there now with a stack of chips, ready to make a play. They’re in the game, and they’re as much a player as anyone.
This sudden relevance on the national scene as the Hurricanes pursue an elite forward to play with Eric Staal has put a refreshing spin on the summer, which is already more exciting than the Hurricanes’ usual laissez-faire, first-do-no-harm crawl toward the new season and may reach a tipping point Friday night.
While the Hurricanes’ optimism regarding their planned pursuit of potential free agent Zach Parise has cooled – the run to the Stanley Cup finals may pave the way for Parise to remain with the New Jersey Devils, and the Hurricanes would only be one of many eligible suitors if he doesn’t – they will never be in a better position to make a trade than Friday, when they hold the eighth pick in the NHL Draft.
That’s an extremely valuable trade asset that becomes worthless as a bargaining chip if the Hurricanes keep it and select a player. A top-10 pick in this year’s draft is worth a lot more than an undetermined pick somewhere in a future first round.
If the Hurricanes are going to make a trade, now is the time.
Nash would look great riding shotgun with Staal, his Team Canada teammate, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are asking a heavy price, believed to be one or two NHL players, one or two top prospects and that No. 8 pick. To make that deal, the Hurricanes would probably have to give up Ryan Murphy, last year’s first-round pick, while the Blue Jackets will certainly be asking – in vain – for Justin Faulk and Brandon Sutter.
Even if the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets get to yes, Nash can still say no. He has a no-trade clause, and it might take some convincing to get him to agree to this move, but one imagines he’d at least be willing to listen to Staal and Kirk Muller.
The Hurricanes were among the teams that inquired when the Anaheim Ducks put Bobby Ryan on the trading block last season, but the asking price was too steep then. He’s reportedly available again, and three years younger than Nash at 25, but might fetch an even higher price. Many of the same teams are kicking the tires on Ryan and Nash, and the Hurricanes are right in the mix.
Then there’s Jordan Staal, whose contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins is up at this time next year. Penguins general manager Ray Shero said this week that his intention is to re-sign his Staal brother, so it might take a while for any potential trade to come into focus.
Jordan Staal, a center, isn’t as good a fit for the Hurricanes as wingers Nash and Ryan – but when you’re a team like the Hurricanes, you have to take any chance you have to grab an elite player, and worry about the details later.
That goes for Nash and Ryan as well. If there’s a way to get a deal done, now’s the time to do it. That first-round pick will never help the Hurricanes more than if they never make it.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 829-8947, Twitter: @LukeDeCock