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NHL Rumours: Options for the Carolina Hurricanes Eyeing the Forward Market

Hurricanes trade forward

As NHL rumours keep swirling, we take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes as they approach the trade deadline. The time is ticking and the dominos have started slowly falling. More and more teams are starting to make moves and that number should only increase as March 8th gets closer. The Carolina Hurricanes should have their sights on the Stanley Cup, but do they have enough to get there? Fans have heard the same “we like our team” mantra over and over. But rumours have swirled that Carolina could be looking at adding another forward to their group. Who is out there that makes sense and who could Carolina take a shot at?

The Carolina Hurricanes are Exploring the Forward Trade Market…But Will They Make a Move?

The Carolina Hurricanes have been relatively quiet about their potential trade deadline moves. There have been some indications that they may move a goalie if all four of Frederik Andersen, Pyotr Kochetkov, Spencer Martin and Antti Raanta are able to play. But otherwise, the broken record “we like our group” statement has echoed from the halls of PNC Arena. However, according to David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, Carolina has been exploring the forward market.

We previously took a look at two “off-the-board” moves Carolina could explore at centre here. But with many names actually on the list of available forwards, with more wingers than centres to help Carolina, let’s take a look at who might make sense.

The Big Fish

Jake Guentzel

Jake Guentzel might be the biggest named forward available for trade. While there is still some question if the Pittsburgh Penguins will move the goal-scoring forward, the further that they move away from the playoffs the more likely he’s moved. Guentzel will be a UFA after this year and will be looking for a big raise.

But you know that Guentzel can score. He hit the 40-goal mark twice and also had 36 another season throughout his eight-year NHL career thus far. But every other season he has scored over 20 goals except one. Now he has spent much time with Sidney Crosby which may inflate some of his stats, but there’s no doubt he can put the puck in the net. If Carolina entertained Guentzel, he would automatically be a top-line winger on the team. Carolina needs a true goal scorer and a game-changer and Guentzel could be that guy.

But considering Carolina’s tendencies at the trade deadline to not pay a premium for rentals, this seems like a long shot. The Hurricanes have enough of their own free agents to sign after this season and adding another doesn’t seem like a move they would make.

The Depth and Rental Options

While Carolina won’t likely pay a premium for rentals, bringing on a lower-cost complimentary scoring winger could make sense. There are a few in this category with different values.

Vladimir Tarasenko

The one that got away. After Carolina moved quickly to sign Michael Bunting and Dmitry Orlov in free agency last summer, there were reports that Vladimir Tarasenko was also about to be a Cane. However, that didn’t happen and he went to the Ottawa Senators on a one-year deal. But with Ottawa likely out of the playoffs, he’s another forward on the market.

Tarasenko is a goal scorer through and through. Even though he has slowed down some from his prime days in St. Louis, he can still put the puck in the net. As recently as 2021-22 he put up 34 goals but has had multiple 30-goal seasons and one at 40. For Carolina, there are some questions if he can fit their system. And that is a big key for anyone that Carolina brings in late in the season (and is partially why they prefer offseason moves). But if they need someone to score goals, taking a flyer on Tarasenko at a reasonable price may work.

Max Pacioretty

Max Pacioretty was going to be Carolina’s go-to goal scorer last season when they plucked him from the Vegas Golden Knights for future considerations. Conversely, injuries kept him out of the lineup essentially all year. Likely due to these injury concerns, Carolina didn’t re-sign him over the summer and he went to the Washington Capitals on a one-year deal. With Washington on the outside looking in, they may look to move him at the deadline.

Pacioretty is another shoot-first, goal-scoring player. In 24 games this season he has three goals and 12 assists but also has put up multiple seasons with over 30 goals. For Carolina, he would at least be somewhat familiar with Rod Brind’Amour‘s style and system. If he could stay healthy, he could be a go-to goal scorer for Carolina. At the right price, which would be less than someone like Guentzel, Carolina might entertain this one.

Anthony Duclair

A player who can fly on the ice and provide some complimentary depth scoring is Anthony Duclair. Carolina saw him last year when they faced the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals. But now with San Jose and also on the last year of his deal, Duclair could be an interesting option at forward.

In 53 games this season, Duclair has 13 goals and nine assists on a weak Sharks team. But over his career, Duclair has put up a few 20-goal seasons and one season over 30. While he might not have top-line goal-scoring ability, he would be a more affordable option to provide goal-scoring in the middle six. This could be a lower-cost move Carolina could explore.

The Best Options to Add a Forward via Trade for the Hurricanes

These last options are arguably the best options for Carolina to explore at the trade deadline. They both would provide Carolina with a great scoring winger that could be a difference-maker come playoffs. While they would cost more than the previous section’s options, they would likely be worth the cost. And fitting into Carolina’s “not trading a premium for a rental” motto, neither are UFAs after this season.

Pavel Buchnevich

The first is Pavel Buchnevich from the St. Louis Blues. Buchnevich is another top-six, goal-scoring winger. After making his way to St. Louis from the New York Rangers, he has been a big piece in the Blues forward lineup. In 58 games this season, he has 24 goals and 24 assists. He has hit the 20-goal mark four times in his NHL career and the 30-goal mark once even though he never made it a full 82 games in a season. At around a point per game over the last few seasons, he could be a big piece upfront.

St. Louis doesn’t want to lose the Russian forward for nothing but it would be a move worth making for Carolina. It would probably include an NHL-ready player going back plus additional assets. The Hurricanes do have options as far as trade assets and could craft a proposal to swing this trade. He would instantly help the team’s top six forwards and could give them that additional firepower up front that might be the difference in the playoffs.

Frank Vatrano

The last name we look at here is a guy having a career year in Anaheim in Frank Vatrano. Last season he scored 22 goals and had 19 assists. But in 60 games this year, Vatrano has 29 goals and 19 assists. This is career highs in goals and points for the forward with much of the season left. It certainly would be a buying high moment for Carolina, but one that would very likely help the team. And help them a lot. Vatrano knows how to put the puck in the net even though he has been playing on a rebuilding Ducks team. His 29 goals would be the most on the Hurricanes this season and he would instantly find a spot either on the top line or as a big boost to the second line. Due to Anaheim’s positioning, Carolina could likely move more future assets in exchange for Vatrano over NHL-ready players.

Vatrano or Buchnevich would likely be the best options for Carolina this trade deadline. Their system demands a lot and there’s a big question if any player can fit quickly. No matter that player’s skill. But both of these players would most likely help the most now and in the future.

Main Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


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