The Carolina Hurricanes need a physical, experienced two-way center to fill their biggest existing hole prior to the team's final playoff push.
Whether such a player will be acquired prior to the Friday 3 p.m. Olympic trade freeze, in the mad rush just before the March 5th 3 p.m. trade deadline or not at all is still unknown.
What is known, however, is that the 'Canes desperately such a scrappy veteran to keep up in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division bubble race—and, fortunately, a number of well-suited targets are reportedly available around the NHL.
I have suggested possible fits such as Mikael Backlund, Steve Ott, Marcel Goc and others in the past.
Legwand is, in simple terms, the perfect player for the Hurricanes.
TSN insider Bob McKenzie first reported on Legwand's potential availability on Monday:
The Predators are shopping Legwand hard. The price is expected to be a first- or second-round pick but keep in mind he has a full no-move clause and he will decide whether or not he wants to be a rental or whether he wants to play out the string with Nashville.
The second overall pick in the 1998 NHL Draft, Legwand has been in Nashville his entire professional career and has achieved remarkable consistency there.
He tallied 13 goals and 28 in his 1999-2000 rookie campaign, setting a precedent for the decade-and-a-half of steady production to come. Legwand has hit the double-digit goal milestone in 13 of his 14 NHL seasons and the 20-goal marker twice.
The 6'2", 205-pound Michigan native has also brought an impressive array of intangibles to the ice in the Music City.
Legwand has sported a positive zone start differential every season since 2009-10 (per BehindtheNet.ca).
He's also ranked among the top three on the team in takeaways every year since 2010-11 and won over 50 percent of his faceoffs in both 2012-13 and 2013-14. He additionally ranks second among all Preds forwards with 2:49 average power-play ice time per game. The last of those many specialties would be particularly nice to add to a Hurricanes' man-advantage unit with just three goals on its last 31 attempts.
Legwand's stats over the five most recent seasons lie below:
|Season||GP||Goals||Assists||Plus/Minus||Takeaways||Zone Start Diff.|
Per NHL.com and BehindtheNet.ca
Not only only would the longtime Predator help supplement the 'Canes potency in several weak areas, he could contribute in leadership as well.
If you were 'Canes GM Jim Rutherford, what would be a fair price for Legwand?
The center boasts 951 games of NHL regular-season experience and another 47 of playoff experience from seven different postseason berths with Nashville. A veteran with such familiarity with playoff-bubble fights and, even better, succeeding in them, would be very valuable on this year's raw 'Canes squad.
The price to add Legwand (or a comparable player) would undoubtedly be expensive.
McKenzie mentions a high draft pick as one possible return; a "future" replacement center like Victor Rask or Brody Sutter might also entice Nashville general manager David Poile. The Preds' star-lacking goalie pool has also struggled to handle Pekka Rinne's injury problems this year and could be interested in Justin Peters.
Nonetheless, Legwand and the 'Canes appear to be an excellent fit. As the front office scours the market in the coming month, it seems likely that they'll keep at least a few eyes on Legwand throughout the process.