Another year. Another middling first round pick.
The Carolina Hurricanes selected Martin Necas from HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga with the twelfth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Draft pundits have touted the young Czech. Could Carolina’s first round pick could have been put to better use elsewhere?
More than likely.
With a gamut of picks and prospects, Francis had all necessary components to make a true splash in this year’s expansion and entry level drafts. Instead, he chose to be patient. The only transaction to be found was trading the newly cast Las Vegas Golden Knights a second round pick for depth defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Dawning in on a decade without a playoff appearance, fans are yearning for more urgency from the Carolina front office. The word “patience” only goes so far. It’s totally plausible that Necas turns out to be a fine player for the Hurricanes. However, that time is still at least a couple years away. The Hurricanes front office seems content with building diligently through the draft. However, fans do not seem as satisfied with the strategy.
Even personnel within the organization were sure that Carolina’s picks would be flipped for NHL ready talent. After the season, Bill Peters was quoted saying he hoped the Canes would only use three of this year’s draft picks. Full conversation and video can be found at Canes Country here.
On the second day of the draft, it was almost a given the Francis would be dealing.
At the end of the day, Carolina had seven new players. All of them prospects that are still years away from contributing to a NHL roster. The Hurricanes are at least one or two high-end scorers away from reaching the playoffs and it’s clear the answer is not on the current roster. To say the Hurricanes are struggling to keep up in the Metropolitan Division arms race would be an understatement.
Francis has shown savvy in shaking down a team and receiving a good haul in return (Teuvo Teravainen, Scott Darling, Aleksi Saarela). However, all of these have been very low risk moves by the Carolina general manager. He has yet to show the willingness or desire to make a true blockbuster acquisition. Carolina has the cap space and the prospects; but does Ron Francis have the audacity to pull the trigger?
High profile trade targets such as Matt Duchene, Alex Galchenyuk, and James van Riemsdyk are still on the table. Will Ron Francis be able to work out a deal for a true first line talent? While it is still early in the offseason, Francis has now departed with half of his bargaining chips.