Early in the post season Jim Rutherford was very active in trying to acquire one Joni Pitkanen. Obviously he would have like to employ his puck moving abilities and youth to a fairly stay-at-home veteran D-Corps.
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As everyone knows, Rutherford did not land Pitkanen, the Oilers did. The man who was on the trading block, Niclas Wallin, remains a 'Cane. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Nic, just that Ritherford wanted a more offensive D-man in exchange for a solid shutdown guy in Wallin.
When the free agency rolled around I expected Rutherford to be more active in the way of obtaining a puck-moving defenseman. The leading OD on the market was Sheldon Souray. He ended up with, guess who, the Oilers. Not that I expected Rutherford to make a bid for him, his expected salary was out of Jimmy Boy's budget range.
I did expect Rutherford to make a bid for some kind of defenseman, just basing my prediction on the fact that he pressed so hard for Pitkanen.
However, when the free agency rolled around Rutherford stormed out of the gate to sign... Jeff Hamilton. Nothing against Hamilton, I'm a fan actually and I'm sure he'll do quite well as a Hurricane. But that was it. No other free agents signed with the exception of Michael Leighton as a 3-deep goaltender.
Then Rutherford broke his budget to land Cullen again. I won't go too deep into that, we know how Carolina feels about Cullen (confetti and streamers fall from the sky in Raleigh).
I guess my question is this; is the 'Canes defense in disrepair? Why would Rutherford push so hard for Pitkanen, then do nothing in the way of getting an OD when he didn't land him? Was he simply trying to "change (the) look on defense"?
I think so. If you look at the 'Canes struggling D from 06-07 you'll notice that many of the problems stemmed from injuries. Kaberle out for half the season with a shoulder injury. Gleason missed a chunk to injury. Hedican had hip problems and missed a third of the season. Welsey was a solid +11, but still missed 14 games. Wallin missed about as many as Glen.
Even the lamentable Tanabe missed a few games, between scoring own-goals and pinching when he had no reason to do so. (Tanabe isn't resigned, more confetti and streamers in Raleigh).
I don't think the 'Canes D is a problem. No doubt it isn't the best in the league, but when those guys are healthy and on their game they do very well. Reference the 05-06 season with the biggest credential being a Stanley Cup. Since then the 'Canes D is minus an underachieving Tverdovsky and a solid guy in Aaron Ward. Not enough to hang them out to dry.
What do you think? Is there a piece of the puzzle missing? Will they be okay if they stay healthy? What kind of pairs do you want to see?
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