On Wednesday evening, the Carolina Hurricanes demoted general manager Ron Francis to a new position and started to conduct a search to replace him. While Francis will remain with the team as president of hockey operations, his replacement as general manager will report directly to new owner Tom Dundon. Quite the change in Carolina at the end of the season.
Many expected Dundon to come in and make sweeping changes as soon as ownership of the team was transferred to him, and when that didn't happen many wondered if the offseason would be the time when the new owner made his mark on the franchise. It's unclear why now suddenly with only a few games remaining in the regular season that Dundon has made this move now.
However, a team is expected to greatly benefit from the drama unfolding in Carolina at this moment. According to Arpon Basu of The Athletic, the Canes' current situation becomes an unique opportunity for the Montreal Canadiens. He believes the Hurricanes have two things the Canadiens’ desperately need in “a young, promising centre that is on the verge of reaching the NHL in 19-year-old Martin Necas” and “a wealth of depth in young defencemen, starting with 21-year-old Noah Hanifin and, to a lesser extent, Jake Bean.”
"Trading away promising young players for established NHL stars has not been Francis’ modus operandi," Basu writes in his article.
Now Francis is gone, and adding an established scorer like Pacioretty would help a team that is on the cusp of being highly competitive. Also, a team that looks at analytics as much as the Hurricanes do, with a stated interest by Dundon to invest more in that area, might appreciate Pacioretty’s strong underlying numbers in what has been an otherwise forgettable season more than other teams."
With Francis out of the picture, Basu suggests the Habs pursue a deal for Hanifin, perhaps by offering up Habs captain Max Pacioretty. The 29-year-old winger has been on the trade block for so long now, and the Hurricanes would have enough cap room to keep him in the fold long term.
But Basu goes a bit further and claims that if the Habs want to make a bigger splash by getting a better haul from the Hurricanes, he suggest offering up goaltender Carey Price. Say what?
You heard right. Of course, it would not be that easy to move the star goalie as Basu states many significant stumbling blocks, notably Price's upcoming expensive new contract and no-movement clause. But it would be a trade for the ages! Basu concludes:
"Which is unfortunate, because this could be a unique opportunity. It will only be Dundon’s first offseason as Hurricanes owner once. It will only be his new general manager’s first season trying to impress his new boss once. That time creates the potential for high risk, high reward decisions
That time is now."
What do you say? Good idea?