On the first day of free agency, Carolina has done two things so far that are not at all surprising.
First, they reacquired defenseman Anton "Yentl" Babchuk. He's been signed to a one year deal for one million dollars.
Second, they traded winger Erik Cole to the Edmonton Oilers for the rights to RFA defenseman Yoni Pitkanen. Carolina desperately needed to make this kind of trade, and it's been rumored to have been in the works since at least December.
Erik Cole will be missed around here. This is one of the first times that a key player has been traded from the Hurricanes. Other teams know how to deal with these things, but Hurricanes fans, and especially the Johnny-come-lately ones, will have a very hard time dealing with it.
What Carolina will miss will be Cole's speed and creativity. His questionable health and his reputation as a diver will be going with him as well. He will do well for Edmonton, and the fans will enjoy having him. He has one more year on his contract, and will make $4M.
Carolina will be getting a puck-moving young defenseman that they need. He's just 24 years old, and is a pretty big guy at 6'3" 210lbs. He had a bit of a letdown last season, totaling 26 (8/18) points in 63 games. Prior to that, he was a consistent 40-point producer on the Flyers back end.
Pitkanen made $2.4M last season, and is technically a RFA. Other teams are free to make offers on him. Based on that salary, the Hurricanes would be entitled to a second round draft pick if some other team steals him away. I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have made this trade unless they were 100% positive that they could get him signed right away.
I'm sad to see Cole go, but I'm excited to have a younger, bigger, puck-moving guy joining the blue line. I'm not crazy about Babchuk (and I think that's an overpayment), but at the very least, Carolina has finally shored up the defense. Assuming Pitkanen gets signed for less than $3M, they'll have saved money.
Of course this leaves a hole in the forward lines. A big hole. Now they have just nine forwards under contract. I assume that Chad LaRose will re-sign at some point. I also assume that Brandon Sutter will make the big team. Will Carolina re-sign Trevor Letowski, or will they look elsewhere?
My guess is that Carolina isn't going to take part in the free agent frenzy. If they do, it'll be for some third line winger.
More details on Pitkanen later.
5 years ago