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Cumming, GA • United States • 4 Years Old • Male
As expected, Jim Rutherford, Canes boss man made things interesting at the draft this past Sunday. Rumors of a possible deal were swirling throughout the Nassau County Coliseum as the Hurricanes first pick came around. Apparently, a number of options were presented to JR, but none enticing enough for him to trade the #5 pick overall. In going into the draft, he had made it clear that any deal would have to include a top 4 D-man as a key piece.

And so, Rutherford attempted to make his own deal happen. The good news is that the deal that Rutherford was attempting to pull off never happened. His offer of the #5 pick and Jamie McBain to Buffalo for the #8 pick and Andrej Sekera was rebuffed by the Sabres. This allowed him to use his pick to grab Swede, Elias Lindholm, generally regarded as the most complete player in the draft. At first, I was surprised that the Canes passed on Valeri Nichushkin to take Lindholm. After all, Nichushkin has off-the-charts potential. But, after looking more closely at Lindholm, you have to be delighted with this move. He can do it all defensively and offensively, is NHL ready right now, and fills a key need for the Canes at 3rd line center or wing. Not to mention, he has clear top-6 potential, adding to an impressive group of Eric and Jordan Staal, Alex Semin, Jiri Tlusty, and Jeff Skinner. And, Lindholm will be a low-cost everyday player, opening up additional funds for critical free agent additions.

Undaunted, JR offered up the Canes 2nd round pick and McBain to the Sabres for Sekera. Lo and behold, somewhat perplexing, this time Darcy Regier relented. And, unlike many others on forums I have read following the deal, I like this deal a bunch. Instead of relinquishing your #5 pick in the deal, move McBain, who last year was terrible, and a 2nd round pick who may or may not be an NHL’er down the road, for a proven 4 or 5 D-man in Sekera. This guy has talent, make no mistake about it. He was the Max Kaminsky Trophy Winner as the OHL’s top defenceman in 2006, when he scored 21 goals and amassed 55 points in just 51 games. He can skate and log big minutes, something the Canes need desperately. Sure, I’ve heard all the rumblings about his so-so play for the Sabres the last few years. But, how many times has JR brought the best out in players like Sekera. I fully expect him to do the same this time.

But, despite two strong adds in Lindholm & Sekera, this still leaves the Canes well short of a play-off team. JR desperately needs to add another top 4 d-man, a couple of forwards, and likely another veteran netminder to round things out. I have put together a list of players that may fit the bill. Ideally, the Canes would go after an Edler or Yandle in trade to solve the gaping problem on the D. Yes, it would probably cost them Skinner but you have to give to get. And, with the forward talent that is available at a reasonable cost and the addition of Lindhom, the Hurricanes will have lots of firepower. Not to mention, the anticipated vast improvement in the powerplay with either of those available. So, here goes.

1. Via Free Agency

a. Goalies

i. Thomas Greiss, San Jose ($625K) – Ideal back-up with capability to fill-in for long stretches, when necessary

ii. Al Montoya, NY Islanders ($600K) – Ditto Greiss; found his game with the Islanders a few years back

iii. Jason Labarbera, Coyotes ($1.3M) – Great pick-up to spell off Ward, but may be too expensive

b. Defenceman

i. Ron Hainsey, Winnipeg ($3M) – Solid stay-at-home 4 or 5 D-man; could be relatively inexpensive option

ii. Jonathan Blum, Nashville ($650K) – Unsigned, outstanding prospect on 2-way deal with huge upside; was unable to break into the talent-rich Preds defence

iii. Ryan Whitney, Oilers ($5.5M)– Brittle, former Penguins first round pick has underperformed in recent years but has the size and the wheels to drive the offence if priced right

iv. Ian White, Detroit ($2.75M) – Former Cane, diminutive low-risk D-man who previously played alongside Harrison with good results

v. Andrew Ference, Bruins ($2.25M) – Nice addition, but will tough to land with several other teams pursuing him

vi. Mike Komisarek, Leafs ($3.5M) – Compliance buy-out could be had for low $s; stay-at-home type, might rise to the occasion with a change of scenery

vii. Tom Gilbert, Wild ($4M) – Compliance buy-out who could come cheap; likes to play big minutes and moves the puck up ice with aplomb

viii. Keith Ballard, Canucks ($4.2M) – Compliance buy-out who could fit the bill; lost his way in Vancouver but has top 4 skills when on his game

ix. Carlo Colaiacovo, Red Wings ($2.85M) – Compliance buy-out with solid 2-way game when healthy; injuries the concern with him

c. Forwards

i. Victor Stalberg, Black Hawks ($875K) – Intriguing large-size winger with low ticket price; Showed spurts of major offensive upside with the Hawks

ii. Damien Brunner, Red Wings ($900K) – Swiss star made seamless transition to the NHL; looking for long term deal; plenty of upside

iii. Peter Mueller, Panthers ($1.725M)– Highly skilled center/winger made great strides with Florida last year but drafting Barkov made him expendable; could be a steal

iv. Jack Skille, Panthers ($825K) – Former Hawks 1st rounder, power-forward, would be worth a two-way contract to see if he can get his game sorted out

v. Eric Nystrom, Dallas – Solid 3rd line guy with offensive upside; low risk signee

vi. Brad Boyes, Islanders ($1m)– Offensively gifted, rebounded last year with Tavares and Islanders; somewhat enigmatic low-cost risk

vii. Dan Cleary, Detroit ($3M) – Excellent veteran, savvy 2-way winger with a winning history in Detroit

viii. Manny Malhotra, Canucks ($2.5M) – Prototypical 3rd line center; outstanding in the face-off circle and strong on the PK; only concern is past injuries

ix. Benoit Pouliot, Lightning ($1.8M) – Lightening fast, winger who oozes talent but always leaves you wanting more

2. Via Trade

a. Eric Cole, Dallas ($4M)– I know, I know…but might be worth a look if Dallas agrees to pick up a good part of Eric’s $4.0M annual salary over the next two years

b. Thomas Kopecky, Panthers ($3M) – Solid 2-way winger, would add size and scoring to the 2nd line ; likely salary dump available for late round draft pick

c. Alex Edler, Vancouver ($5M) – Rumored that Canes offered #5 pick for him at draft; Would likely require Ruutu or Skinner & Gleason in the deal, but would bring a legitimate Top 1-2 D-man to the Canes

d. Keith Yandle, Coyotes ($5.25M) – Oft-rumored in trades, but would anchor D and drive powerplay; Skinner would likely go the other way

e. Andrej Meszaros, Flyers ($4M) – Might be available for draft pick due to cap problems; solid 3 or 4 big minute muncher who can chip in with some offence, when healthy

f. Devin Setoguchi, Wild ($3M) – Ideal 2nd liner, could be available for cheap due to Wild cost-cutting

g. Chris Kelly, Bruins ($3M) – possible cost reduction for the B’s; 110%er, never takes a shift off; would fit in nicely as 3rd line center/penalty killer for coach Muller.

Along with these moves, I would like to see them bring back Bobby Sanguinetti, on a 2-way deal, as a solid 6 or 7 D option. Frankly, I am somewhat perplexed that he has not been signed already. He made good strides last year on an awful Canes team and is a much better option than either Bellemore or Murphy at this stage. I suspect he’s looking for a one way deal and JR isn’t ready to oblige. Jettisoning Westgarth, Peters, and Welch, would be a huge boost if it could be done. They would have to be throw-ins in a major deal to move them. None of the three are everyday players.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of options open to the Canes as teams sort out their payroll situation. It will probably be training camp before the dust settles on all of JR’s moves. In the meantime, let’s put on Jim Rutherford’s hat and have some fun playing GM. Who’s at the top of your list for the Canes?

Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/CanesTR for Canes commentary.
July 3, 2013 8:23 PM ET | Delete
July 3, 2013 8:24 PM ET | Delete
Draft was in Newark
July 4, 2013 6:40 PM ET | Delete
I rather wonder if the Canes who could use some defence with experience might not have interest in Liles and could a trade there with the Leafs be had? Skinner is a RFA and Carolina has a lot of money tied up already. While I am sure it would have to at least be Liles Prospect Pick it might be a decent move for both teams.
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