Originally written June 30, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
With draft day finally here, most people have weighed their opinions on what they think the Hurricanes should do with the fifth overall pick and the overall consensus is split. Some think that the best thing for the Canes to do is hold onto the pick and select an elite talent with the fifth overall pick, but there are just as many people who want the Hurricanes to trade down to acquire a few assets along with more picks. GM Jim Rutherford has already made it clear that he is going to make a play for a "top-four defenseman" this off-season and will likely acquire one through a trade. This has caused a lot of speculation around the Hurricanes and whether or not they will use the #5 pick as a trading piece to acquire one.  It will be hard to pass on a prospect of a Valeri Nichuskin or Aleksander Barkov's caliber, but with so many teams looking to trade up, the Hurricanes have been receiving offers from other teams and could possibly trade down for the right package. With the team looking to improve and be a contender next season, it's understandable why they would consider trading the pick. Playing to "win now" comes with a lot of risks, though and the Hurricanes dealing the fifth overall pick could result in them missing out on getting an elite player, which could burn them in the long run. This is why I hate it when people talk about what a team "should" and "shouldn't" do because each option comes with a risk. If the Hurricanes keep the pick, don't get much out of whoever they draft in his rookie season and still have a terrible defense, then it will look bad that they didn't trade the pick. However, if they do trade the pick and whoever they acquire ends up not working out, then it will look like an awful trade in hindsight. Everybody loves to play the role of armchair GM these days and getting the benefit of hindsight is always night when evaluating past moves. The thing about the Hurricanes situation right now is that it's sort of a "win-win" scenario no matter what they do. The team has both long and short-term needs, so keeping the pick and selecting anyone of the "Big 5" from this year's draft would be a great move. However, trading the pick is not something to be completely against either, at least not if the Hurricanes can get a legitimate, big minute defenseman in return. Carolina trying to acquire a defenseman through free agency is either going to result in them overpaying for someone or acquiring a player who would be a marginal upgrade and neither are ideal options. They would also have to give up something of value on the roster to acquire a top defenseman, so trading the pick allows them to keep what they have and fill another need. With that in mind, it looks like trading the pick would be the "right" thing to do but there are some obstacles. The decision of the Hurricanes trading the pick will ultimately come down to what other teams are offering and how far back the Canes will have to move back. Who the Canes are targeting in the draft will also play a huge factor because if the player the Canes want is off the board by the time their name comes up, then a trade is more likely. The Canes might also really like a player who could be available in the 7-9 range, which would make a trade with the Oilers or the Sabres much more realistic. What's to say that they will get the package they want from those teams, though? Do the Oilers and Sabres covet someone in the top five badly enough that one of them would give up assets to move up only two spots in the draft? Personally, I don't think so but if they have their heart's set on one player in particular then it's possible. They would have to be really desperate to give the Hurricanes a big-minute defenseman for moving up only two spots, though. That's when you go back further in the draft. Those teams are the ones who would be more willing to give up a lot for a top-five pick and the Hurricanes can ask for a bigger package in return. The Canes themselves would be taking a risk by moving back that far in the draft, but if they get a good enough return and make the team better for the next 3-5 years, then it would be worth it. Is their a package like that out there? I can't say, but the rumors seem to be off the hook right now so I'm prepared to expect anything. The Hurricanes should have options later in the draft, too if they want to acquire a second-pair defenseman because while a player like that may not be worth the #5 pick, he is definitely worth the second rounder. I know that some people hate "giving away" picks, but whoever the Canes select in the second round this year will probably be years away from making the NHL. If the Hurricanes want to make their team better in the immediate future, then trading a second rounder for someone who can help next year is not a bad move to make. It would likely have to be someone who is a UFA next year (Klesla, Robidas, Greene, etc.), but it's a fair risk for a team that's trying to make the playoffs. Smaller trades like that are often forgotten in the craziness of draft weekend, so I wouldn't be surprise to see a move like that go down.  Either way, this is a big day for the Canes and I think they should set themselves up to be a better team next year when all is said and done. There really isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to go with this draft because it's easy to see the logic behind the Hurricanes either keeping or trading the pick. Both come with a huge risk, but they could also greatly benefit from either move and what they do will likely depend on how the first four picks go and what other teams are offering.
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