The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t made too many improvements to their squad that finished 13th in the Eastern Conference last season. Which means they’ll be relying mainly on health to improve off of the disappointment, for the most part. But that may not be enough for them to stave off missing the playoffs or an early elimination, given their thin blue line.
It’s tough to call it a surplus, but the Hurricanes do have a wealth of forwards, at least one of which they could probably afford to part with in a trade for a defenseman. If they choose to do so, the one that could make sense, and should bring about a very nice return, is that of Jeff Skinner.
We’ve heard Skinner’s name pop up a bit in trade rumors this summer, but nothing has really materialized. Despite the fact that he’s coming off of a couple of disappointing seasons, some of which was related to health, he could still fetch a nice return, given his huge upside.
After a 63-point rookie campaign, and a contract extension, Skinner hasn’t been able to replicate the same success. He has just 68 points combined in the past two seasons, in 106 games total. When he’s on his game, though, he has a nose for the puck, knows how to put it in the back of the net, and is strong on the puck. He has an impressive skill set, despite a couple disappointing years.
The thing about Skinner that also makes him attractive is that he’s under control for the next several years. His contract, though it carries a cap hit over $5.7 million, won’t expire until after the 2018-19 season. If he can put it back together, that’s taking him into his prime easily.
What would make plenty of sense would be a move for an upper tier defenseman. Skinner could easily fetch a top pairing blue liner, in a trade that could involve multiple pieces outside of a 1-for-1 swap. Perhaps they could look at a team like the New York Rangers, who have multiple young defensemen, but need help scoring.
Someone like Keith Yandle is also an option for a Phoenix team that could use a bit of extra offense as well. There are others too. While Skinner is young and has big upside, the Hurricanes have talent on the offensive end. What they need to get back to the top of the league is more help on the blue line, and Skinner can help them get it.