Since the moment Tom Dundon took over from Peter Karmanos as the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, fans and media have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Gone are general manager Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters in two very controversial moves made by Dundon, but as of today the team has not yet made any offseason changes to its roster. Newly hired GM Don Waddell is biding his time, surveying the trade market and sizing up his assets before making a move.
Of course, the lack of movement in Carolina doesn’t mean that the rumor mill isn’t working overtime. Everyone from Jeff Skinner to Justin Faulk is rumored to be on the move this offseason, but one name in particular is drawing interest from across the league: former 5th overall selection Noah Hanifin.
The 21 year old Boston native was drafted 5th overall by the Francis led Hurricanes in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Since then he’s progressed slowly but steadily, culminated in his first 30+ point campaign just last season. In fact, the youngster even represented the Hurricanes at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game. He ended the 2017-18 campaign with a career high 10 goals and 32 points in 79 games. Should he hit the trade market expect over a dozen teams to get involved, but one team in particular sticks out to Sportsnet reporter and NHL insider Elliotte Friedman: the Vancouver Canucks.
In his latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, Friedman casually mentions the Canucks as a “stealth team” in the mix to land Hanifin, but fails to expand on things much.
Stealth team for Noah Hanifin: Vancouver.
No details, but still… we’re intrigued. There’s no doubt that Hanifin would be a great fit in Vancouver. Besides veterans like Chris Tanev and Alex Edler, the Canucks defense corps doesn’t offer much up in terms of quality defenders. Youngsters Ben Hutton, Derrick Pouliot and Troy Stecher are still out to prove themselves as regular everyday NHLers, while Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto have have more or less peaked in terms of their development. Adding a young stud to go along with fellow 5th overall pick Olli Juolevi would do wonders for improving the Canucks defense corps.
The question, as with any trade in the NHL, is what’s the cost of acquisition? Certainly Hanifin is a valuable player and the Hurricanes won’t just give him away for nothing. The Canucks just so happen to be loaded with high end prospects, but it’s unlikely that they’ll move any one of Juolevi, Elias Pettersson or goalie Thatcher Demko. Could Jonathan Dahlen, acquired in the Alex Burrows trade with the Ottawa Senators, be appealing to the Hurricanes? Or what about youngster Jake Virtanen? The big speedy winger could use a re-fresh in his career and Carolina could prove to be the perfect landing spot.
Whether or not a deal can be consummated by the Hurricanes and the Canucks remains to be seen, but until Dundon and Waddell make a move expect the rumors and speculation to continue in Carolina.