The Untouchables

With the Anaheim Ducks in complete freefall mode, GM Bob Murray made a shocking announcement that everyone with the exception of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are “fair game” in regards to a trade. Yes, that includes star forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry along with defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and goaltender Jonas Hiller. No, this doesn’t mean that all of these guys are going to be traded, it just means that Murray is wiling to listen to offers for them. Despite that, the news of this breaking out has caused hockey fans all over the Internet to go into a frenzy because they think that their team can somehow land Perry, Ryan, Getzlaf, etc. without remembering that big trades like that do not happen very often during the season. I can’t recall the number of times I have heard proposed deals for a big-time player not happen so I take trade rumors with a huge grain of salt.

That said, the Ducks are a mess right now. They are sitting at 14th in the Western Conference, have a very unimpressive prospect pool and do not exactly have a lot when it comes to depth or cap room. They haven’t been good for years (playoff appearance last year was due to a ton of good fortune) so this is a perfect time to rebuild if they wish to go that path since Perry, Ryan and Getzlaf could fetch a decent return that might help them rebuild. Does this mean that they will be traded this year? No, but there is a good possibility that they might.

Now, I have heard some people make a case for the Hurricanes making a trade with the Ducks for one of the aforementioned players and I honestly don’t see it working out. Yes, having an elite winger like Perry or Ryan would be fantastic but in order to get one of those players, we would need to give up a lot (i.e. one of our top prospects) and the Canes just aren’t in position to do that right now. I know that Ryan is still very young, signed for four more years and can reasonably fit into the Canes rebuilding plan but I still don’t know if giving up prospects is the right thing to do right now. Also, three of Carolina’s best prospects are offensive defensemen (Faulk, Murphy, Dumoulin) and Anaheim already has one of those in Cam Fowler so this is why I do not see the Ducks and Canes working out as trade partners.

Carolina is more likely to be a seller this deadline with the team being out of contention and having a few expiring contracts on hand, but let’s say there is a deal like the Erik Johnson/Chris Stewart trade from last year and the Canes do get some kind of offer. Who would be on the team’s “untouchable” list?The Ducks have made it clear who they aren’t going to deal (although their choices are a bit odd), so who should Carolina hold onto as the deadline approaches?

Fortunately for the Canes, they are in better shape than the Ducks when it comes to organizational depth and future plans, so they can afford to hold onto a lot more players. Here is my list of guys that I would not deal.

Eric Staal: You can throw around as many rumors as you like but I would not trade Staal this year. For one, his value is probably lower than it should be right now due to him having a bad year and a GM could easily “buy low” on him if the Canes are stupid enough to trade him away. Plus, his points might not be there because of his bad start but he is still the best player on the team and I know this sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, but his low point total is more related to bad luck than anything else. He is still under contract for the next five years and should be a key part in the team’s rebuild as captain so I think trading him now would be a mistake. Also, if the team is going to trade Staal then they need to find someone that is going to take on his $8.25 mil. cap hit, which is very unlikely.

Jeff Skinner: This one is a no brainer. Staal might be the best player now but Skinner might take that title from him in a few years. He is the future of this franchise and isn’t even in his best years yet. I don’t see any way that he is traded.

Brandon Sutter: A bit of a wild card here, but I honestly see Sutter as a huge part of his franchise going forward. He is only 22 and is already playing a key defensive role on the team while putting up respectable numbers. He is also under contrat at a low price for the next few years and won’t be an unrestricted free agent for a few more years. There is plenty of time for him to max out his potential and become a great two-way forward who can put up 40+ points a year. He is already very sound defensively and we’ve seen his offensive potential before, so I see him as an important part of this franchise going forward.

Joni Pitkanen: We have a ton of defensive prospects in our pipeline and will need to have someone around for them to learn from and I think Pitkanen has to be that guy. He plays in all situations, logs over 20 minutes a night and does everything well. He is the perfect player for the younger defensemen like Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy to learn from because Pitkanen was a similar player to them when he was younger and has since evolved into a complete, all-around defenseman. Plus, Jim Rutherford signing him to a three year deal this summer indicates that they want to keep him around for a little bit. He’s also been battling injuries this year, too so he probably isn’t going anywhere.

Justin Faulk: He isn’t even 20 yet and is being trusted with top-four minutes against tough competition. While he has some flaws in his game, he has shown a ton of promise as well and is proving to be a lot more than just an offensive-defenseman. The Canes do have a lot of defensive prospects but I think Faulk is a keeper.

Zac Dalpe: He is our best forward prospect right now and while he has struggled to stay in the lineup, I still would not trade him at this point. The Canes aren’t exactly flooded with forward prospects and trading away the best of the bunch isn’t a good idea.

Ryan Murphy: I would keep him on the untouchable list for now because he is the Canes best prospect and projects to be a top-level offensive defenseman and powerplay quarterback. With the team in rebuild mode, it makes no sense to deal him now.

After that, I can not think of any others who I would absolutely not trade. I’m usually one to take proven talent over potential any day but in order to be a successful franchise, you need to have a little of both and the Canes aren’t at that point yet. Trading the farm and a combination of draft picks for a Bobby Ryan-type player isn’t going to make them a contender overnight and trading for him likely means losing one of the untouchable pieces I mentioned earlier. Then again, sometimes you have to take risks to make progress as a franchise. The Canes don’t need to trade everyone for prospects but they shouldn’t deal the ones that they have either.