The Carolina Hurricanes have been rumored to be very interested in adding a scoring forward this season, and they may have almost gotten their wish last week. On the latest edition of Insider Trading for TSN, Pierre LeBrun reports that a deal fell through at the last minute with a Western Conference team. LeBrun restates the Hurricanes’ interest in a top-six forward and while it sounds like William Nylander is off the table after signing his long deal, apparently they have interest in Kasperi Kapanen of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Speculation can run wild on who the Hurricanes were dealing with in the West, but the simple fact is that Carolina is urgently looking to get some more firepower up front. With another goal tonight for the Maple Leafs, Kapanen continues to impress in an elevated position next to Auston Matthews and is setting himself up for a nice contract negotiation of his own in the offseason. The 22-year old forward had struggled to find any real consistency at the NHL level for the first few years of his career, but had 21 points in 31 games coming into tonight’s action and is finally fulfilling the potential that made him a first-round pick. The Maple Leafs of course have other concerns in the summer months, given that Matthews and Mitch Marner are also restricted free agents.
Even if Kapanen is not available—which LeBrun makes no real assertion on one way or the other—there will be plenty of offense to go around as the trade deadline nears later this season. Another name mentioned in the segment by insider Bob McKenzie, though not in specific reference to Carolina is Jeff Carter, who still has three years left on his contract after 2018-19 but isn’t actually owed much salary. That makes him a pretty attractive trade target if teams are willing to sacrifice some young assets for the rebuild in Los Angeles, though nothing seems imminent there either.
One has to wonder whether Carolina will find what they’re looking for soon, given the urgency the front office is likely feeling. The team entered play tonight at 13-12-4 but had scored just 72 goals in those 29 games. That put them ahead of only the Kings, a place you don’t want to be if you’re trying to compete for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.