Carolina Hurricanes

It’s decision time for Hurricanes at NHL trade deadline

Thomas Dundon, left, with Canes’ general manager Ron Francis as Dundon was introduced as the buyer and new majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes at a press conference at PNC Arena on Jan. 12, 2018.
Thomas Dundon, left, with Canes’ general manager Ron Francis as Dundon was introduced as the buyer and new majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes at a press conference at PNC Arena on Jan. 12, 2018.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis has had much to consider leading up to Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

The Canes are caught in a five-game winless streak, going 0-4-1.

The Canes, while just three points out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference, aren’t scoring goals, are having defensive-zone problems and still must worry about their goaltending.

Jordan Staal, the Canes’s co-captain, best center and arguably their most valuable player, has missed the past two games and may be away from the team longer following the death of his infant daughter, Hannah.

A few days ago, Canes coach Bill Peters said, “With our group, the way it currently is, we can get in (the playoffs). If there are some additions to it, it will help.”

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The Carolina Hurricanes on Aug. 2, 2018, traded forward Jeff Skinner (53) to the Buffalo Sabres. Chris Seward

Whether Francis will provide that help Monday before the 3 p.m. deadline remains to be seen. It’s possible it could be a quiet day for the Canes, with the decision to play the final 20 games of the season with the team the way it currently is.

A TSN story a few weeks ago – “Jeff Skinner joins TSN’s Trade Bait board” – caused something of a stir. It said a dip in Skinner’s offensive production this season and possible friction with Peters might make the team willing to entertain offers for Skinner.

Skinner’s reaction?

“Yeah, I saw it, but it’s out of your control,” he said last week. “There’s not much you can do to impact that. Just go out and worry about playing. That’s more than enough to worry about, for me, and for most guys probably.”

Such is the charged atmosphere in which NHL players operate in the weeks and days leading up to the NHL trade deadline. For some it’s like walking on eggshells, wondering what new faces will be in the locker room after the deadline or what faces will be gone. Or if they’ll be gone.

“Every year it’s like this and all 31 teams go through the same thing,” Peters said. “All 31 teams are trying to get better if they can. What I hear is the prices are through the roof.”

One major trade Sunday sent forward Rick Nash from the New York Rangers to the Boston Bruins and the price was high: the Bruins’ first-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft, defenseman Ryan Lindgren, forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft.

Among the big names being mentioned as possibly being moved Monday were defenseman Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and forwards Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens and Evander Kane of the Buffalo Sabres. If that should happen it would make for a blockbuster Monday.

The Penguins completed a trade Friday during its game against the Canes, adding center Derick Brassard from the Senators to solidify their lineup for a run at a third straight Stanley Cup.

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Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, left, and assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour, center, try to come up with a plan to score during a time out in the final minutes against the San Jose Sharks at PNC Arena on Feb. 4, 2018. The Sharks beat the Canes 3-1. Chris Seward

It’s doubtful the Canes (27-25-10) would deal Skinner at the deadline, although his numbers are down this season – 20 goals and 37 points in 62 games. He also made two defensive-coverage errors in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Red Wings in Detroit that allowed defenseman Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley to score goals.

It’s impossible to pin the loss on Skinner but the Canes’ margin of error is so thin and brittle that breakdowns often are costly. It also hurt the Canes that a goal by defenseman Justin Faulk was overturned when it was ruled he made a kicking motion.

For the Canes, out of the playoffs since 2009, Sunday was an off-day for the players but likely an all-day work day for Francis and the management group. New team owner Thomas Dundon likely weighed in on how to handle Monday and the deadline.

“Everyone is aware of what’s going on,” Skinner said. “Obviously there are variables that go into it, guys have families, stuff like that. But a player you just worry about what you can do and what you can control.”

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