The trades that sent winger Jiri Tlusty to the Winnipeg Jets and sought-after defenseman Andrej Sekera to the Los Angeles Kings proved Francis' ability to plan for the long-term future of the franchise without being distracted by short-term upswings.
Wednesday afternoon, the 'Canes fully committed to rebuilding through youth.
And Francis took one step closer to cementing his role as the George Washington of such a revolution.
Coming back to Carolina is the Kings' 2015 or 2016 first-round pick, the Jets' 2016 third-round pick and a 2015 fifth- or sixth-round pick, per TSN's Bob McKenzie and the Jets' website. Also part of the Sekera deal is prospect defenseman Roland McKeown, a 2014 second-round selection.
The two trades will eventually altogether net four prospects for the Hurricanes' system—three the team will get to choose itself as well as McKeown, who may instantly become the club's second-best defensive prospect behind Haydn Fleury.
|Hurricanes' Wednesday Trade Details|
|Winnipeg Jets||LW Jiri Tlusty||2016 3rd round pick (2016)|
|5th/6th round pick (2015)|
|Los Angeles Kings||D Andrej Sekera||1st round pick (2015 or 2016)|
|D Roland McKeown|
One could argue Francis undersold Tlusty, who had not been putting up big numbers this season but fits well as a finisher when slotted alongside a playmaking center.
The return value of third- and fifth- or sixth-round selections is comparable to that of players like Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak—not quite superstars themselves and not of the same caliber as Tlusty.
But at least Francis got something for him. Predecessor Jim Rutherford had grown famous for letting his pending free agents slide by the deadline without being liquidated for assets.
Any potential return Francis let slip in the Tlusty trade, moreover, was more than made up for by his successful manipulation of the Sekera hullabaloo.
While other deep-pocket teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers begged on the doorstep, the Hurricanes front office dealt the experienced blueliner to an L.A. team that's currently surging furiously back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
On Feb. 17, Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote that the Sekera asking price of a first-rounder and prospect was "too rich for just about any suitor’s blood" and that "chances are that the price will drop."
It didn't. It may have even risen.
The prospect—19-year-old McKeown—has a reliable reputation and, though he lacks elite upside, is in the midst of his third consecutive solid campaign with the OHL Kingston Frontenacs. He could blossom into a second-pairing NHL rearguard down the road.
The draft pick, which will be in 2015 only if the Kings indeed make the postseason, will likely be in the No. 16-25 range.
The 'Canes are almost certainly not done dealing prior to Monday's trade deadline.
They still retain a number of pending unrestricted free agents, including penalty-killing specialist Jay McClement, conservative defenseman Tim Gleason and depth wingers Brad Malone and Patrick Dwyer, per Spotrac, who could be on the move.
Wednesday's pair of near-blockbusters do, however, demonstrate a firm dedication to the franchise's future.