Leave it to Elliotte Friedman to angry up my blood in his 31 Thoughts this week:
7. I do think Colorado checked out Corey Crawford. But Robin Lehner’s future ties into Chicago’s decision. Lehner’s performance during Chicago’s 5-3 loss to Edmonton raised eyebrows. Not because he was bad or anything, but because he was “quiet.” Lehner plays a “loud” game, both in terms of his voice and activity. The Blackhawks and his representatives are trying to find a match, but word is term is going to be a hurdle. Lehner has said that he deserves to be paid “fairly,” and it was so unusual to see him so placid that people were wondering if a lack of progress bothered him. He was back in goal for Saturday’s 8-4 win in Calgary, where he made a big save to preserve Chicago’s advantage when the game was still in doubt.
Carolina, meanwhile, has had a lot of interest in Lehner, and has that extra first-rounder.
I’m going to start with the trade idea, because that’s more exciting. Crawford to Colorado less so, but Lehner to Carolina…yes, yes please. First off, with the way Francouz has played in Denver, I can’t imagine the Avs have a goalie too high on the priority list even with Philip Grubauer on the shelf. And given their injuries up front, that has to be the priority. We’ll circle back to this.
Carolina, on the other hand, definitely needs a goalie. And this has been the case for like five years. While they were able to miracle a conference final run last year out of Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney, that was never a long term solution. And while they might not like the idea or even agree to it, the Canes are in their window right now. Metrically, they’re one of the best teams, as always, in the league. They’re still young, but with the uncertain budget in Raleigh every year it’s hard to know what is going to stick around and what isn’t. They’re clinging to the last wildcard spot, though are also only a point behind the Flyers for the last automatic spot in the Metro. And they’re better than the Flyers, or the Jackets who are behind them.
The only reason they’re even messing around with this kind of shit is Mrazek turning back into Mrazek. Now, Jame Reimer has been good for them so far, but if you want to turn your team’s fortunes over to James Reimer, that’s a great way to have your heart broken. It’s just not what he is, and if you’re the Canes you want to get back into the Metro spots because you do not want to have to negotiate Tampa and Boston in the first two rounds just to get back to where you were last year.
So if you’re the Hawks, you have to be circling the Canes as a main partner. And you have to start ignoring what your aims were this year. Your vets aren’t stupid. You’re eight points out of it with four teams to leap to get into the playoffs. They should be at least able to hear the argument that at least a second first-round pick is better long-term for this team.
And just a first-rounder should only be a starting point for Canes and Hawks talks over Lehner. If Blake Coleman gets you a first rounder and a prospect (one of the garbage Feet sons), then Lehner should be similar. Or you can pick off one of the extra picks the Canes have in the second and third rounds too. Or both. Or pry Jake Bean loose (or flick him loose, as it were). And then perhaps at the draft you can parlay the two first-rounders you have into a higher first-rounder, or package them for a real winger from a rebuilding team.
Would two first-rounders be enough to get you maybe Timo Meier or Tomas Hertl from the Sharks, who are going nowhere in a hurry? Worth a call, don’t you think?
As for the Avs. I am loathe to part with Brandon Saad for just about anything, but given that Mikko Rantanen is made of boogers and Gorilla tape, they need a middle six forward. And as he only has one year left on his deal after this one, it gives them flexibility. And if it sends Bowen Byram the other way, which would be the asking price for me, you’d have to think about that one long and hard.
If you could pull that off, you have Byram and Mitchell joining up next season, which means your defense could look like:
Give me all of that. Not only that, but with the presence of the three kids, it’s cheap for at least two seasons. And when it gets expensive, Keith will be spinning off his hockey mortal coil.
Even if that costs you Saad, with that defense you’re only a forward or two away from being something serious. Play things right by buying out Maatta and telling Seabrook to do one somehow, and you’d also have Saad’s cap space. Would that be enough to tempt Taylor Hall? If Kreider makes it to free agency? Toffoli? Let’s say there are options.
Oh who the fuck am I kidding? They will do exactly none of this and sign Michael Frolik on July 1st.