Hurricanes GM Waddell talks potential Skinner trade, need for changes

Don Waddell in 2011, during his time as head coach of the U.S. national team. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

After a tumultuous off-season that’s brought plenty of off-ice change for the club, the Carolina Hurricanes are turning their attention to improving the on-ice product.

New general manager Don Waddell — who recently took over the top job after owner Tom Dundon’s highly publicized GM search ground to a halt — spoke to Steve Kouleas on the NHL Network’s Sirius XM radio show NHL Game Day on Wednesday, offering some insight into the front office’s thinking.

“We’ve had some players here that have been here for quite a few years — we know we need to make some change,” Waddell told Kouleas. “We’re looking at all those options as we speak right now to see which pieces make sense for us to move out, which ones we need to continue to build around.”

After finishing 14 points out of a post-season spot in 2017-18, sending the team into its ninth summer without playoff hockey, questions of potential changes have persisted. That conversation has most recently turned to longtime stalwarts like Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, who have both been with the organization since 2010.

Waddell addressed those rumours Wednesday, saying the team has received calls on both players but is still considering its options.

“We have to look at every position on our hockey team. We’ve gone nine years without making the playoffs and some guys have been here five, six, seven years,” Waddell said. “Not that they’re bad players — both [Skinner and Faulk] are some of our top players — so we want to make change, but when you make change you want to make sure you’re making the right change or making the right decision.

“[Skinner and Faulk] are guys certainly that people have called about. I talked to almost every general manager, that we’re looking to make some changes, so certainly when other teams are calling, they usually want to call about your better players. So we’re in discussions with not only those players but multiple players.”

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Though it’s unclear at this time whether Waddell feels it would be necessary to deal a player like Skinner — who has six seasons above 20 goals on his resume, and hit a career-high 37 the year before last — it seems the team’s goaltending is a better bet to see some turnover.

“We all know we need to address our goaltending. It’s something that we know we need to be better at,” Waddell said, adding the following when asked specifically about 2017-18 tandem Scott Darling and Cam Ward: “We know we need to have change there — we know we can’t bring the same two guys back. Scott Darling came to camp last year probably not in the best condition, and we never got him to where he was back in Chicago. … We feel that there’s still something there, and we’re going to do everything we can to put Scott in the best situation to have success.

“In saying that, we are in the market, and I’ve made it very clear to all the GMs I’ve talked to that we are going to try and address our goaltending. If there’s a guy that makes sense for us out there, we are certainly going to look to make that move.”

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