There was a time when the the Hurricanes were carrying nine defensemen on the roster but that number has now dwindled down to seven, but you can still make the argument that Carolina has eight NHL-ready defensemen in their system, which is why there has been a lot of buzz about Carolina possibly trading one of their spare defenseman. I am all for keeping Justin Faulk in Charlotte because he is only 19 and think he could use some more time to work on his all-around game, especially with the amount of offense-first guys Carolina has on their blue line right now. That leaves seven on the roster and the two fighting for playing time are Jamie McBain and Derek Joslin. Joslin has only played one game so far this year and while he played pretty well, he finds himself sitting out tonight against New Jersey. Then there's McBain, the player who will likely garner a bigger return. McBain has been very inconsistent this year and it would be nice to get something in return for him, but is trading him now really the correct move?
We'll look at both sides of the coin after the jump
Why Would We Trade McBain?
I'll revisit a point that I brought up earlier, the team really needs scoring help up front and McBain would garner the biggest return out of any of our current trade options. McBain's coming off a pretty solid rookie season and there are some teams who need a puck-mover on their blue line would be willing to send Carolina an offer for him. In my projection for him this year, I listed Fedor Tyutin and Jordan Leopold as his comparables which would make his expected point total be from 14-32 points this season, which isn't bad for a defenseman and sounds about right for him.
McBain's game is also similar to Justin Faulk's in the sense that he is known more for their puck-moving skills than his defense. The same can be said for most of Carolina's regular blue-liners (Pitkanen, Kaberle, Harrison's emergence as a more offensive threat), so that doesn't leave much room for Faulk in Raleigh at the moment. Trading McBain could free up a spot for him. McBain has been improving his two-way game this year, though but there's been a lot of times where he's made some ugly mistakes and they ended up being goals for the opposing team. His play this year has come with a lot of highs and lows to say the least. This would also free up a space for Derek Joslin, who I think needs to play in more games. Joslin has only gotten to play one regular season game this year and he brings a solid all-around game to the table, which I would benefit this team.
There's actually a few teams who I think McBain would be a top-4 defender on so I think his name has to be on the table now with Carolina having scoring problems and a logjam on defense. However, there's plenty of reasons why holding onto McBain might be the right call.
Why Wouldn't We Trade McBain?
It is worth noting that McBain is still under an entry level deal and is only a RFA at the end of the year while Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason are both unrestricted. Retaining McBain would be a cheaper option than re-signing either of them in an open market, especially with how well Gleason's played this year. It makes one less defenseman and one less roster spot we have to worry about next season. Plus, if McBain is traded now then I hope it's for someone who can contribute immediately to the team. Let's say that he is traded and it's for a draft pick. That would mean someone else in the defense corps needs to step up and play top-four minutes. Who would do that? Kaberle and Harrison could and possibly Faulk if he's called up but Joslin has been a bottom-pairing player for his entire career. I like him but I don't think anyone can argue that he's a better player than McBain. There's just that huge risk factor which worries me when trading McBain.
Another thing is that McBain has plays a pretty big role on this team. As I noted earlier, he plays top-four minutes, has seen some very tough competition this year (43.6 OZone%) and, despite a very rough patch of games recently, hasn't been bad. I don't trust relative corsi rate that much but the raw data has him above .500 in terms of corsi and his scoring chance percentage is not terrible either. He is one of those defensemen who is normally steady and a good player for the most part, but their mistakes frequently end up resulting in goals for the opposing team. I like to call it "Tomas Kaberle syndrome" but it's also known as "Mike Green/Braydon Coburn syndrome" depending on who you talk to and what team they root for. We can't just plug Faulk, Harrison or Joslin into McBain's role and expect them to replace everything without any problems. There are going to be some growing pains. I'm interested to see how a Pitkanen-Kaberle pairing does, though.
My point is, I see McBain as someone who can significantly help this team, but his inconsistencies and large number of solid defensemen in Carolina's system make him an attractable trade option. I am not against trading him but if we do, then I hope it's for a forward who can contribute immediately. Personally, I don't think McBain will fetch that much in a trade but teams looking for a puck-mover and have forwards to spare may give up one with top-six potential in return for him. That's at least what I hope to get if we do end up trading him. The general consensus is that the Canes aren't that good of a team this season (which has been the case so far) and the "right" thing to do would be to trade all expiring contracts for draft picks. McBain is a piece who I think the team could use in their rebuild so instead of just shipping him off for a draft pick, a better option would be to get a younger forward who could contribute this year or in the next year or two. That's only if the offer is right because I do not like the idea of trading a player just for the sake of it.