After going winless in October, the Carolina Hurricanes opened November with their first two victories of the season, downing the hapless Arizona Coyotes and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. This recent bout of success, however, won't stem the growing tide of trade speculation dogging the Hurricanes this season.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is getting phone calls from other clubs interested in making deals with him. Francis claims none of them are willing to make a hockey trade which that makes sense for his club, as they're attempting to dump bad contracts upon the Hurricanes.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims Francis is making calls in search of a trade, willing to discuss almost everyone on his roster except his young core players.
Center Eric Staal remains at the forefront of the Hurricanes trade chatter. While there is undoubtedly interest in the Hurricanes captain (particularly from the Toronto Maple Leafs), Francis told LeBrun he's had no trade discussions regarding the 30-year-old center this season.
Francis said if a there is a deal which makes sense for his club in both the short and long term, he would consider it. He seems reluctant, however, to consider moving his captain. Staal, who has one season remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $8.25 million, prefers to stay put.
Garrioch claims the Hurricanes would love to move winger Alexander Semin, who's been a healthy scratch in recent games. With four years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $7 million, there's no interest in the underachieving Semin.
A more likely trade target is defenseman Andrej Sekera, who is earning $1.75 million this season in actual salary ($2.75-million cap hit) and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The 28-year-old blueliner is coming off a career-best 44 point performance last season. Sekera also led the Hurricanes last season in blocked shots (127).
Francis probably hopes to re-sign Sekera, but come July he could command over $5 million per season on the open market. If he declines to commit to a contract extension, the Hurricanes could move him.
Sekera will attract interest from clubs seeking defensive help right now. The New York Rangers lost two key rearguards in Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein over the weekend, while the Colorado Avalanche could benefit from the addition of an experienced two-way defender. He's a left-handed shot, however, meaning he won't help teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars or Detroit Red Wings, who seek a top-four right-handed blueliner.
Francis faces an uphill battle finding a hockey trade to reverse the Hurricanes early slide. Too many teams lack the cap space or the desperation at this time of the season needed to commit to a significant deal involving a swap of established roster players. Rival GMs calling Francis merely hope to profit from his club's early-season misery.
If Francis cannot find a suitable deal to boost his roster, the Hurricanes could find themselves among the favorites to win the 2015 NHL draft lottery and the chance to draft OHL superstar Connor McDavid in June.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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