Share this article

print logo

Inside the NHL: Skinner trade tops bizarre string of moves by Hurricanes' new sheriffs

There are teams that are completely organized, there are teams where you sometimes wonder what they're up to and then there are the Carolina Hurricanes.

What in the world is up with these guys?

New owner Tom Dundon and new coach Rod Brind'Amour are not distinguishing themselves this season. Same for General Manager Don Waddell. The Canes' playoff drought stretches to 2009, the longest in the NHL, and shows no signs of stopping. Especially when you trade players like Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin.

Dundon sparked plenty of head-scratching last week during an interview with the Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh. With the Canes languishing near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, he admitted he's had plenty of hard talks with Waddell.

"The results are worse than we probably would have expected so yeah, it's not very good," Dundon said. "Don told me to be positive but I can't when I lose. I've got to have more offense. I want to lose 5-4, not 2-1. If we lose 5-4, at least I'll have fun."

Dundon then said, "We won't be drafting defense in the first round as long as I'm here" and added the Hurricanes were now in the market for a "sniper".

Of course, they had a three-time 30-goal scorer and former Calder Trophy winner on their team in Skinner and sent him off to the Sabres for next to nothing. Skinner, of course, has exploded in Buffalo.

Jeff Skinner using lessons from family, figure skating to succeed with Sabres

Lindholm played four years in Carolina, never collecting more than 17 goals or 45 points. He already has 16 goals in 32 games for the Flames and entered the weekend on an 87-point pace. I guess having Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Jack Eichel on your team can make a difference.

Dundon isn't wrong that his team needs offense. There are positive signs in the play of Sebastian Aho, who has 33 points in 31 games this year, and No. 2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov, who has eight goals and eight assists thus far. But the Canes can't be in the market of giving away weapons.

Brind'Amour was clearly behind the trade of Skinner, saying in the wake of the deal that the speedy winger was not the kind of player the Hurricanes wanted. Whatever that means. When he arrived for training camp, Skinner took the high road about his time in Carolina although he admitted he really had no idea what that meant.

Mike Harrington's NHL Power Rankings

Brind'Amour, a first-time head coach who was captain of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup champions, has seemed over his head multiple times this season. And he went completely rogue Friday night during a shootout loss to Washington.

Aho, who had a four-point night that included a breakaway goal, didn't take an attempt even though the shootout went six rounds. Neither did Svechnikov. Repeating: What in the world is this franchise thinking?

"We do that drill in practice every day,” Brind’Amour said. “Same guys kind of generally are our better guys. We keep putting them out there because they score in practice. That’s all it was. … To be honest, there’s not a lot of thought into it. Went with the flow on that one.”

The Capitals of course went with big guns like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. They didn't keep theirs chained to the bench. Pretty obvious not a lot of thought is going on in Carolina.

Stupid season starts early

Don't get me going on fake trade proposals. People constantly ask you what would it take to get this guy or that guy? Nobody knows. I'm not in the room (or as technology goes these days, on the phone). Anybody who says they do know is just full of bluster. Ever notice how many of those hot trade "rumors" in February, June and July ever actually happen?

Stupid trade season seemed to officially kick off last week and it really has this corner wondering what's in the water up in Toronto these days.

Sportsnet laid out a doozy in a column about who might trade for St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Of course, it labeled the Sabres as one candidate and offered a deal of Conor Sheary, Marco Scandella, Lawrence Pilut and the 2019 first-round pick originally acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan O'Reilly deal in exchange for Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

Pietrangelo, 28, carries a $6.5-million cap hit for one season after this one and is a free agent in 2020. So the Sabres are going to trade Pilut, among others, and give the Blues back the first-round pick they got for O'Reilly for a guy who will be 29 next year and then a free agent? That's insanity.

But it's downright sane compared to what the Hockey News suggested on a podcast last week.

A trio of veteran writers went down the Patrick Kane wormhole, suggesting a deal home away from the bedraggled Blackhawks for No. 88 might be all the Sabres need to really accelerate things here.

The suggested return to Chicago for the South Buffalo native? Not much really.

Only Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Brendan Guhle, Victor Olofsson and three first-round draft picks. Yes, three. For a guy who just turned 30. No truth to the rumor the deal also includes a partridge in a pear tree. Not to mention that little problem of Kane's $10.5 million cap hit for the next four years.

It's almost as if they were acting as NBC operatives and trying to give the Blackhawks a quick fix so American television ratings can get back on track with 20 Chicago games again in upcoming years.

Are these people unaware of Jason Botterill's Stanley Cup rings? Did he earn them by acting haphazardly around Jim Rutherford in Pittsburgh? This is some kind of crazy talk.

Still a superstar as he turns 30, Patrick Kane stays focused on bringing Blackhawks back

Around the boards

• Now that former Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher is in the same post in Philadelphia, isn't it a matter of time before he gets former Sabres GM Tim Murray on his scouting staff? Fletcher was Murray's closest friend among the GM fraternity and they were constantly talking trade. Murray dumped Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick and Chris Stewart to the Wild in deadline day deals in 2014 and 2015.

• Vegas got center Paul Stastny back Friday in New Jersey after the summer free agent signee missed 30 games with a knee injury after a collision with Jack Eichel during the Sabres' Oct. 8 win over the Golden Knights in KeyBank Center. The Golden Knights breezed to a 3-0 lead just 9 1/2 minutes into the game before allowing the Devils to come back and beat them in overtime, 5-4.

• The New Jersey comeback was one of three made by teams who were down three goals on Friday. Washington did it to Carolina, winning in a shootout, and Arizona won at Madison Square Garden on an overtime goal by former Ranger Derek Stepan. It's just the second time in NHL history there were three such comebacks on the same day. The only other time that occurred was Nov. 25, 1987, when Detroit, Montreal and Pittsburgh turned the trick.

• A couple familiar names have shown up on the AHL suspension list in the last few days. Rockford defenseman Dennis Gilbert (St. Joe's) was suspended for three games for an illegal check to the head in a game against San Antonio. Binghamton forward Ryan Schmelzer (Canisius College) earned a two-game ban for a similar infraction. Schmelzer was penalized on the ice while Gilbert was not.

Gilbert, Chicago's third-round pick in 2015, has two assists in 17 games this year while making his pro debut. Schmelzer has three goals and three assists in 19 games. He is on an AHL contract.

Story topics: / / / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment