RALEIGH — The Hurricanes have swung their second trade in three days.
After using its available cap space to get a first-round pick from Toronto to take on the final year of Patrick Marleau’s contract on Saturday, Carolina traded defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward prospect Aleksi Saarela to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Gustav Forsling and goalie Anton Forsberg on Monday.
Two moves, both for salary cap reasons.
The Hurricanes used their wealth of cap space to add more draft firepower, then used their glut of defensemen to clear up space for some pending contracts.
According to CapFriendly.com, Carolina has nearly $25 million in salary cap space after trading de Haan (owed an average of $4.55 million over the next three seasons). Both Forsling and Forsberg are restricted free agents and depth players — either could crack the Hurricanes roster, but this deal was about making room in the checkbook to fill other holes.
Carolina needs to re-sign or replace Justin Williams, and the team will also find a replacement for the departing Micheal Ferland, who fell out of favor with the team and is unlikely to return.
The Hurricanes also need to shore up their goaltending. Alex Nedeljkovic is on the cusp of being an NHL goalie, and Forsberg has enough NHL experience to add some depth. So Carolina will be targeting at least one goalie, if not two, this offseason. The team could save more money by buying out goalie Scott Darling, who has two years and $7.1 million remaining on his contract. Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney remain options but are free to talk to any team.
The biggest ticket item will be RFA Sebastian Aho, who could make $10 million or more annually if Carolina can get its top scorer to agree to an eight-year deal. Brock McGinn — another favorite of ownership and the coaching staff — is also a restricted free agent and due a raise (I expect him to come in around the same as Jordan Martinook’s two-year, $4 million contract extension).
De Haan was a valuable player for Carolina last year, but too pricey to make that much on the third pairing and not worth more than getting a first-round pick — especially with Haydn Fleury ready to take his place in the lineup.