NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2018
Having traded Jeff Skinner to Buffalo, will the Carolina Hurricanes shop defenseman Justin Faulk? Can the Sabres re-sign Skinner? The latest in your NHL rumor mill.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Prior to the Carolina Hurricanes trading Jeff Skinner last night to the Buffalo Sabres, Luke DeCock wrote about the possibility of Skinner and defenseman Justin Faulk returning with the Hurricanes in 2018-19. Regarding Faulk, DeCock noted the recent acquisition of Dougie Hamilton gave rise to speculation the long-time Canes blueliner could be expendable. He also speculated Faulk might not be an alternate captain this season, “and he remains a prime candidate for a change of scenery in the wake of what could be a very visible demotion.”
While the Hurricanes spoke publicly about trading Skinner, “the talk about Faulk was primarily obvious speculation driven by the Hamilton trade.” Despite the fact Faulk’s minutes and role on the right side will be reduced with the addition of Hamilton, DeCock said there’s no rush to move him because he has two years remaining on his contract.
Following the Skinner trade, Decock and Chip Alexander reported Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Faulk’s situation was different. “We never said we wanted to trade Justin Faulk”, said Waddell. “People assumed when we picked up Dougie Hamilton that was the direction we were going to go, but we don’t feel that same way. We feel if we do stay status quo, we’re going to have one of the best defensive corps in the league. Saying that, if some team steps up to the plate for him or another of our players we’re going to continue to look at that.”
SPORTSNET: During a conference call with reporters last night, Waddell said he’s not actively shopping a defenseman but is always willing to listen to offers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes may indeed have one of the NHL’s best defense corps but, with Skinner dealt to Buffalo for a prospect and three draft picks, their offense is significantly weakened for 2018-19. Their 2.74 goals for per game last season ranked 23rd in the league.
Recent media speculation linked Faulk to the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. With no obvious replacement for Skinner, the Hurricanes could again find goals difficult to come by. That will ensure Faulk remains a fixture in the rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon considers the Skinner trade a big win for the Buffalo Sabres. noting they didn’t have to give up any of their three potential first-round draft picks to get the three-time 30-goal scorer. The 26-year-old Markham, Ontario native is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If the Sabres can’t re-sign him, Yerdon believes he’d be “a very marketable player to move at the trade deadline.” Given Skinner’s age, however, re-signing him might be a good idea for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how Sabres GM Jason Botterill handles Skinner’s contract situation. He could attempt to re-sign the winger before the regular season. Perhaps he’ll wait to see how Skinner meshes with his new teammates before exploring contract extension talks. Re-signing him could cost over $7 million per season but would be worth it if he improves the Sabres’ offense.
Given how little Botterill gave up to get Skinner he should get a quality return if forced to shop him. However, the Sabres GM must avoid repeating the mistake he made last season with Evander Kane by waiting too long in hopes of boosting his trade value. If Skinner isn’t a good fit or won’t commit to re-signing come January, Botterill should act quickly to find a trade partner.