Justin Faulk has been a key part of the Carolina Hurricanes for almost a decade now. He’s consistently good for about 35 points per 82 games, though in his most productive season he totalled 49 points. His advanced stats are great as well, as he’s been at a 52.3 CF% or above for the last five seasons. But on an expiring contract, it’s still up in the air as to whether Faulk will be back with the Hurricanes for the 2020-21 season or if he’ll even end this season in Carolina.
Whatever the Hurricanes do, he’s obviously far too important to let walk to free agency and at just 27 years old, he’s the perfect age for a long-term extension. On his next deal, Faulk is probably getting about $7M per year. It’s an increase from his $4.83M cap hit now but with Patrick Marleau’s contract coming off the books and Erik Haula and Trevor van Riemsdyk as the only other pieces that could need a somewhat significant raise for the 2020-21 season, the Hurricanes would have the space to do it.
But with Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce already as two right-shot defenders for the foreseeable future, it may not necessarily make sense to extend Faulk. The Hurricanes could continue to use three right-shot defenders in their top four but you have to wonder if that’s really the long-term plan.
If he’s traded, it can’t be similar to what we saw with the Jeff Skinner deal, which brought back just pennies on the dollar. If moved, chances are it’s for a forward but there isn’t necessarily a ton of room to bring one in. Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov are key parts of the future, Jordan Staal and Nino Niedereitter played big minutes last year and Ryan Dzingel and Erik Haula will also have spots in the top-nine. Add to that the fact that Martin Necas will have the chance to make the team this year out of camp and there’s still the possibility for Justin Williams to return and that alone would fill out the top-nine. One could of course be packaged with Faulk to bring back quite the haul like we saw with the Hanifin/Lindholm for Hamilton/Ferland deal but predicting that something like that could happen again would just be pure speculation.
A trade makes for an interesting situation because the Hurricanes will look to contend next season and if they’re moving out a player like Justin Faulk they should be looking for immediate help but they’d potentially need to make room for it. The importance here is that whatever the Hurricanes do, it has to be done right. If he’s moved, he can’t be moved for the sake of making a trade and he surely has to bring back more than the Skinner trade did.