The “Country Club” on Edwards Mill Road is officially closed.
For better or worse, the Carolina Hurricanes are shaking things up and will not be bringing back the same core group of players from the previous disappointing seasons.
When new owner Tom Dundon met with the media at the end-of-season press conference and said that every player was under review and subject to trade, except for Sebastian Aho, he apparently was 100% serious.
On day two of the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, Don Waddell accomplished something that previous general manager Ron Francis could not accomplish in four years.
He made a player-for-player hockey trade. And this one cut to the core.
Gone are two highly-rated 5th overall draft picks, Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin.
They were both sent to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and prospect Adam Fox.
One might say that Lindholm and Hanifin were selected a bit higher than they should have been to begin with. Many had Sean Monahan rated higher than the Swede and Calgary got him with the the pick following Lindholm.
Hanifin was the first of three highly rated defensemen chosen and it is generally considered that those selected soon after him (Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski) are higher rated now.
Lindholm has been slow to develop and has yet to crack 20 goals or have a (+plus rated) season. Still, while wildly inconsistent, he was showing some improvement and progress.
Hanifin is a smooth skater who is very good at moving the puck and skating it out of his zone. This past season his offense improved a lot but he was still having trouble finding his way in his own end.
Both players started in the NHL at age 18 and were rushed a bit in their development. But regardless of their faults, those are talented hockey players that the Canes traded, still with a lot of possible upside.
Carolina is getting Hamilton, a highly regarded player who tied for the goal scoring lead with all NHL defensemen last season with 17. He also finished in the (+plus) last season indicating that he plays fairly well in his own end as well.
The blueliner played over 21 minutes a game and was on the team’s top pairing, and that was without killing penalties.
Ferland was called a “warrior” by his coach last year and scored a career high 21 goals as well as bringing a lot of grit.
The Canes are getting much tougher to play against by adding this bruiser who registered over 170 hits last season and over 200 three seasons ago.
He primarily played on the top line in Calgary with Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. It will be interesting to see if he can generate similar offense in Carolina with less talented linemates, although he might fit playing on Andrei Svechnikov‘s line.
Waddell spoke to the media about adding some necessary toughness to the team.
“We have some very, very good young players, very skilled young players and we wanted to make sure that they could (focus) on their goal to play hockey without worrying about the other stuff. We added Martinook earlier and now adding Ferland gives us some guys who play hard and bring some size.”
In other words, don’t mess with our boys or we will mess with you. This would be a huge change for a group that rarely stood up for each other in recent seasons.
Hamilton has now been traded twice in the last four years and will already be playing on his third team in his young career.
He is getting blasted by the Calgary media as not fitting in the locker room and having chemistry issues with the rest of the team.
Waddell was not concerned though when asked about it.
“Not worried about it at all. There are reasons behind every trade. There are a lot of good players who get traded a lot of times. We did our homework on this and we know where the player is in his career and we know his personality. We found no red flags at all. In fact, some of the other teams trying to acquire him were very familiar with him.”
Fox is a defensive prospect currently playing for Harvard and the Canes are very high on him. He was one of the leading scorers on the blueline in the college ranks last season.
This trade should send a message to everyone that the club is done being patient wants to win now.
The deal makes the Canes better immediately as Hamilton is an upgrade over Hanifin and Ferland brings much needed toughness while still matching Lindholm’s scoring.
But there is still room to grow for both Hanifin and Lindholm and who knows how good they will be in the near future?
There is always much arguing between fans and pundits about who got the better of any deal, but sometimes there are no winners or losers in a good hockey trade.
Time will tell.