Ever since Tom Dundon bought the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this season, this franchise has seemingly been ripe for significant roster adjustments.
Speculation has been brewing for months about which key players might be moved, but that conjecture has been picking up steam lately as June – perhaps the best time of the year for National Hockey League general managers to make deals – approaches.
Don Waddell, recently named as the GM of the team, alluded to the winds of change blowing during a Wednesday morning interview on Toronto’s SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.
“I think right now, as I said, we have to look at every position on our hockey team here,” Waddell stated, replying specifically to speculation surrounding the futures of winger Jeff Skinner and defenseman Justin Faulk with the club. “We’ve gone nine years without making the playoffs and some guys have been here five, six, seven years. Not that they’re bad players – actually, both players you mentioned are some of our top players.
“We want to make change, but when you make change you want to make sure you’re making the right change and making the right decision, because anybody can make just change for the sake of making change. But if you’re not making your hockey club better with those changes, it might make sense to take another look at it.
“The guys you mentioned are guys certainly that people have called about. I’ve made it (clear) to every general manager I’ve talked to we’re looking to make changes. Certainly when other teams are calling they usually want to call about your better players. We’re in discussions with not only those players, but multiple players.”
Skinner has one season to go on his contract, which comes with a $5.725 million cap hit and a no-move clause. He’ll be eligible to sign an extension as early as July 1, but the general sentiment from Insiders has been that the winger stands a good chance of being dealt – and Bob McKenzie expressed that same feeling this week.
Faulk has two years remaining on his pact, which includes a cap hit just a shade over $4.83 million, and the defenseman does not have any trade protection written into that deal.
At one point during the conversation on SiriusXM, Waddell was afforded the opportunity to speak directly to Canes fans with his message.
“Well, certainly Pete Karmanos ran this franchise for many, many years,” noted Waddell. “Not only a great owner, but a great person. But at his age he felt it was time to turn over the helms to a new person and I think we got lucky that the one thing we have stability within the ownership – you have one person that’s making the decision. He brings, as we know, a wealth of his business mind and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got a lot of money also.
“But I think the key for our fans is we’ve had some players that have been here for quite a few years. We know we need to make some change. We’re looking at all of those options as we speak right now to see which pieces make sense for us to move out, which ones we need to continue to build around.
“Obviously getting the No. 2 pick in the NHL draft coming up probably means we’re going to be able to put a player right on our team. If we keep the pick, which it looks like that’s the way it’s going right now – that’s exciting. We have Marty Necas, who we drafted last year in the first round, that we feel is going to make the jump this year to the NHL. We’ve got Aho and a few of our other young guys. I think we have a lot of good pieces in place, and now we have to find the right supplements around those players with some of the veterans like the Williams and Jordan Staal and Slavin and Pesce on defense, Faulk. We feel like we’ve got a lot of good pieces.
“We all know we’ve got to address our goaltending, that’s something that we know we have to be better at. We think if we can address our goaltending that this will be a big question mark that hopefully we can answer this summer.”
Cam Ward’s two-year contract is coming to an end, while Scott Darling has another three seasons remaining on his four-year, $16.6 million deal.
“We know we have to make change there,” reiterated Waddell concerning the goaltending. “We know we can’t bring the same two guys back. Scott Darling came to camp last year probably not in the best condition and we never got him to where he was back in Chicago. So we started the offseason program with him and then got the ability to play some games for Team USA in the world championships. So that process will continue as he gets back here in North America. We feel there’s still something that is there and we’re going to try to do everything we can to put Scott in the best situation to have success.
“In saying that, we are in the market and have made it very clear to all the GMs I’ve talked to that we are going to try to address our goaltending. If there’s a guy that makes sense for us out there, we certainly are going to look to make that move.”
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