As the 2010 NHL Entry Draft grows closer, talks of trades have also begun to heat up. For the Carolina Hurricanes, this is especially true, as their offseason priorities include more than just dealing with their array of free agents.
One player that many, including myself, think could be an inviting and likely exchange possibility is 28-year-old right wing Chad LaRose. He has become a decent low-line player for the Hurricanes and it appears that a move may be a smart idea for Carolina.
"Rosey", as LaRose is known by many 'Canes fans, will be entering his sixth year in the NHL, but has yet to jump into the production rate he was expected to have. In his five years with the Hurricanes, which began in their Stanley Cup season of 2005-2006, LaRose has yet to break the 20-goal plateau in any season, and has only recorded more than 30 points once (he had 31 in 2008-'09).
This year, LaRose struggled even more, suffering two different injuries which limited him only 56 games. Furthermore, in the end, he only tacked on 11 goals and 17 assists, not to mention several crucial defensive blunders in key games and an eventual minus-2 rating (a career low).
Thankfully, "Rosey" still seems to have at least some upside in terms of trade value. His career plus-15 rating, penalty killing and shorthanded value (LaRose has recorded six shorthanded goals in the past four years), and cheerful, team-first attitude add some "beef" to his trade resume.
LaRose also boasts 39 games of postseason experience, where he has 12 points total, as well as playing a big role in a couple last-minute moments in the '08-'09 playoffs. Lastly, no. 59 did manage to finish the season on several strong notes, picking up an impressive three goals and five assists in the last week (three games) of the season.
However, despite these upsides, he's severely overpaid. LaRose received $1.5 million this season and registered an extensive $1.7 million cap hit. Furthermore, he's scheduled to get an even bigger paycheck next year, racking in a whopping $1.9 million...if his production stays the same, that's over $67,000 per point.
That would also put LaRose as the eighth-highest paid player on the Hurricanes, despite playing on the bottom two lines the entire season. Meanwhile, prospect Brandon Sutter would be making over $1 million less yet almost doubling "Rosey" in goals this year and being seven years younger.
This pro-and-con player profile formulates for an intriguing collection of trade possibilities, and his low-level name recognition might end up making any transaction he's involved in become more of a package deal. Here's a few teams I've picked out who might be interested in acquiring LaRose's services despite the salary hit, and who they might send to Carolina in exchange (teams are listed alphabetically, not in order of likeliness).
Boston seems one of the most worthy candidates to get involved in a deal with Carolina.
First of all, the Bruins currently hold the second overall selection in the draft, a pick the Hurricanes would love to trade up from their seventh slot to get. In addition, Carolina also holds four second rounders, a bounty that may have a few picks traded away before they get to choosing a player with them.
With Marc Recchi on a severe down-slope and probably at the end of his career this summer, and Miroslav Satan becoming a UFA on July 1st and being perhaps too old to re-sign, the Bruins appear to have a shortage of right wingers.
A deal sending LaRose and the 'Canes seventh overall choice along with one of the second round picks or an almost-NHL-ready prospect like Jiri Tlusty or Patrick Dwyer (or even perhaps several of those) may be enough to acquire the second overall pick.
A deal with Dallas may be in reverse fashion as the trade with Boston would be, at least in the 'Canes point of view. The Stars seem like they might be a candidate to try to trade up from their currently-11th slot to the Hurricanes 7th place and go after a legitimate top-ten player.
Along with the trade of first rounders, Carolina might also be able to send LaRose and perhaps a physical forward like Tom Kostopoulos. This may be enough to buy away rookie standout Jamie Benn, who had 22 goals and 19 assists last year at age 20, as well as free up a lot of cap space.
If Benn is too valuable for Dallas to part with, 20-year-old defensive prospect Philip Larsen may also be worth considering, as he had one assist and a plus-1 rating in two NHL games last year as well as holding on to years of experience as the top 'D'-man for Swedish junior team Frolunda HC Goteburg.
A more simple possibility could be a deal that sends LaRose to Edmonton. As long as the first overall pick doesn't get involved, 25-year-old center Robert Nilsson may be targeted, as the Hurricanes are looking for mid-aged centers.
With Nilsson scheduled to earn a bit more than LaRose this year, the salary differences could make up for the production variation between the two. Additionally, for any further balancing, late-round picks could be added in from both sides to equal the scale.
St. Louis Blues
Lastly, the Blues may also make a push for several of the Hurricanes mid-aged talents. With Keith Tkachuk retiring and probably Paul Kariya as well, they could be in a market for Carolina forwards like LaRose as well as Sergei Samsonov.
Furthermore, St. Louis also appears to have the space for those extensive contracts, as they may be looking at a complete roster makeover in which almost all of their current player are left to walk into the free agent market.
Young defenseman and mid-round picks may be the bounty exchange coming into Raleigh, as players that have already reached the NHL level at a young age is exactly what the Hurricanes need. Roman Polak or Jonas Junland are both options, and may be accompanied by one of the Blues third or fourth round picks.
Although the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, or St. Louis Blues all appear to me to be among the best candidates to be involved in a trade for Chad LaRose, when you're not looking for simple one-for-one deals, pretty much every team is on the market.
Certainly, LaRose isn't the 'Canes only trading option. However, he is one of the main ones, and if the Hurricanes can tack on a few more players that aren't working out, a simple trade may turn into the biggest off season problem-solver both franchises involved.
If you have any ideas, corrections, or opinions, feel free to comment. Perhaps even your team might end up being the most interested!
Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist and community leader for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes as well as an avid follower of many other sports. In his 21 months so far with the site, he has written over 200 articles and received over 140,000 total reads.
Visit his profile to read more.