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Los Angeles, CA • United States • 25 Years Old • Male

'Canes D: Need Fixing?

Posted 1:57 AM ET | Comments 9
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.

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?
Filed Under:   hurricanes   pitkanen   oilers   defense   souray   kaberle  
August 19, 2007 11:23 AM ET | Delete
There is something that the carolina hurricanes and their fans have in common... A lack of teeth!
August 19, 2007 2:36 PM ET | Delete
Key point you made, "when they are healthy". Wesley and Hedican are getting long in the tooth, and don't see the youth needed to replace them. This may be a long year for 'canes fans.
August 19, 2007 7:00 PM ET | Delete
Very creative comment Sabresx88. Thanks for actually contributing to the conversation ginogold.
August 19, 2007 10:14 PM ET | Delete
Yes, the D is a problem because and not just because of Hedican's health concerns or the fact that Wesley is basically a PK specialist with limited even strength minutes. The problem is a glaring lack of offense from the D, not just in points but starting things with crisp outlet passes or moving the puck up ice. Lavi's system is up tempo but there is only 1 real O-Dman in the top 6 and that's Kaberle. He is decent but to see him on the first PP unit underscores the problem. I'm one of the few who will say Tverdovsky, despite his late season disappearance, contributed quite a bit to the hot start the Canes had last year. He helped start break-outs and was solid on the PP. In the playoffs, the PP was torrid and Ward stood on his head for most of it. It masked this weakness but it was evident this past season.The offense bogged down and often resembled more of the Maurice era dump-and-chase because the outlet passing and puck-carrying were often non-existent. Even if Hedican comes back he is only marginal in that role so guys like Staal and Stillman will have to be back to the 05-06 levels or it will be another potentially frustrating year.
August 19, 2007 11:46 PM ET | Delete
I personally thought the D was a major problem two years ago yet you still made it to the finals and the entire group played solid. Wesley and Hedican probably shouldn't be getting many minutes anymore, Commodore is really turning into a great D-man. A guy like Gleason really needs to step up and become a top pair dman. Plus, Pitkanen would've helped... i'm not sold on Kaberle, but all in all its an average d core that could use an upgrade I'd say.
August 20, 2007 12:59 AM ET | Delete
Hmm... right now I' day our best D-man is Commodore, who has really been developing great. Wesley is still good for 3rd pairing minutes, And we have Sidenburg waiting in the wings to take over- he needs a little development, but he's got a great shot. Kaberle is pretty decent, but not great. hedican is aobut ready to retire...Yeah, we need an upgrade on D. any chance we could trade for Phaneuf?
August 20, 2007 3:06 AM ET | Delete
You're all right. (Barring the first comment). Wesley and Hedican are all downhill from here. Kaberle and Commodore are the biggest up swings, but we really do need for Gleason to step up. He is at the age where, if he isn't improving he's going to be the player he will be for the rest of his career. He did voice a desire to up his O-game at the end of last season, let's hope he did this summer. Seidenberg is a stretch as well. He has played in an average of 45 games a season in his career. Can he really take on those minutes. I think the teams should really look into taking on 1 or maybe 2 D-Men to step up if Wesley of Hedican poops out. The 'Canes signed Wade Brookbank, but he is a far cry from a top 6 D-Man. Maybe after camp Casey Borer or Jamie McBain will make the squad...
August 22, 2007 11:32 AM ET | Delete
Hey there know I'm a litte late and probably won't get much of a response. I would say the Canes weakness is in thier D. Now I know I'm probably going to get killed on this but what would you think of Kubina? I think him along with F.Kaberle would make a decent PP. On a SEPERATE note. I emphasize that because I by no ways mean for Kubina. But I heard yesterday that the canes were shopping Cole around. I heard the kings were interested but laughed at the request of Frolov. Just wondering if you guys are hearing anything on this. And if D is the need why go after Frolov?
August 31, 2007 1:29 AM ET | Delete
I think most of the Cole rumors are exaggerated. People see a guy with a questionable neck on an overloaded offense and immediately think the 'Canes are trying to deal him before he becmes a "Lindros" type problem. I think there is way too much assuming going on in terms of cole. I do enjoy the thought of Kubina though...
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