Canes Twitter has gotten their wish. Ron Francis is no longer General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, and I’m not sure how to feel. On one hand, I’m happy for Bill Peters. He was clearly fed up with Ron Francis not taking risks and getting him better players, and the on-ice product has definitely sagged because of it. On the other hand, I’m glad that Ron Francis signed Pesce and Slavin to team friendly contracts, drafted well, and rebuilt our pipeline from scratch.
Was this a necessary change? Probably. Ron Francis’ risk averse nature didn’t seem to click with Tom Dundon’s philosophy, and the team definitely suffered because of it. Francis built this year’s team on a lot of “ifs,” and a lot of those “ifs” haven’t worked out. Trading for Darling was Francis’ only risk, and it hasn’t paid off in year one. The team got better this season by adding Williams and van Riemsdyk, but banking on Skinner to put up 35 goals was a mistake. It’s not a knock on Skinner, but he can’t be the only one producing for your team. Playoff teams don’t rely on one guy, not even Ottawa last season. Still, we decided to like our group enough to rely on a couple guys to anchor a struggling offense for another season. A lot of the blame was put on Peters for the team’s struggles, but what more could he do? It’s wrong to blame a guy that has openly asked for change and not been given any. There is only so much he can do with the roster as currently constructed, and firing him would not have been a good move. You at least need to see what Peters can do with better players before deciding to fire him. * Glares at Canes Twitter*
Now for my opinions that will probably be ridiculed on twitter dot com. Francis made a good decision when he didn’t go for Duchene. The price was ridiculous, and would really have hurt the team in the future. I like Duchene, and I think he would have been a great addition to this roster. But giving up what was essentially two first round picks, a third round pick, and Callum Booth would have been very detrimental to this team. Our pipeline isn’t good enough where we can just replace those players on a whim. Neither was Ottawa’s, but we’ll leave them to burn in an eternal dumpster fire. It was the right move to not pull the trigger there. Was it the right move to stand pat at the deadline? Probably not. The team could have tried to make a trade for a player with some term left on his contract, but they didn’t. They could have moved their rental forwards like Stempniak and Ryan, but they didn’t. In Dundon’s eyes, that was the final straw. He set out to improve this team at the deadline, and nothing happened. It’s a little concerning that he’s willing to make such a monumental change right away, but I won’t criticize it until I see the consequences.
I think this move affirms Tom Dundon’s respect for Bill Peters. He acknowledges that it’s not Peters’ fault, and the only way to truly see what we can get out of Bill Peters is by building a good team for him. Peters has asked for change all year, and hopefully we’ll be able to find a GM that will give him change in a smart way.
Here’s a few things that I want from the new GM, whoever that may be:
- Trade for players, but don’t give up the farm
- Draft well with whatever picks you have left.
- Sign good players, but don’t ruin the team with Milan Lucic-esque contracts
- Trade/Waive replacement level players
- Call up players that will benefit your team
Seriously, there are so many ways to mess this up. You could pull a Rutherford and trade an entire draft’s worth of picks for a rental player at the deadline. When your team sucks a few years after, it shouldn’t come as a shock. If you trade picks, drafting well with the remaining picks is imperative. The Canes’ pipeline is filled with middle six or bottom six guys, but not a lot of top end talent. So draft well with the picks you keep. Don’t sign bad contracts. The Islanders will have to deal key players because of the Ladd contract, and the Oilers have had to trade Hall and Eberle so that they can keep elite talent such as Milan Lucic and Kris Russell. Lastly, don’t hesitate to waive guys that suck in order to call up players that don’t suck. We hesitated for way too long to waive Kruger and Jooris, and Wallmark has only gotten a few games out of it. Jooris was traded for a guy that is playing in the AHL, which is still better than keeping him on the roster. If a player is playing at or below replacement level, there’s a good chance that you have NHL ready players in the system that can easily replace them.
One last thing I’ll say: Ron Francis has definitely helped this team grow. He restocked the pipeline with plenty of good prospects, got rid of the Semin contract, drafted Aho and Staal, and signed a core piece on defense (Slavin) to a very team-friendly deal. He’s built this team from a pile of crap to a decent team, but the Canes now need someone that will push them over the top and change the identity of the team.