I'm going to begin by saying I'm quite excited for the upcoming season and I really like the moves made by Jim Rutherford to retool the team and it's defence. The Canes have a new look, a few solid prospects, and this is the first season that I can remember where the primary news about the Hurricanes is not about the financial situation.
That said, how different are the team rosters this year? Here's a projected list:
Most of the names are the same, but there are too many defensemen listed for this year's squad. Why doesn't JR make a move and clear up some space? Simple. Brandon Sutter. JR probably wants to make sure that Sutter is ready to step in and fill the last open spot before he trades away one of the D men (likely Kaberle) because they are his insurance policy. If Sutter isnt ready, JR trades him for a fourth line center. If Sutter is ready, JR gets a pick and dumps salary. The Canes have a self imposed budget of $45m this season (likely only three million less than the cap actually should be) and will have to start trowing offers at Eric Staal really really soon. The sooner we get our future captain locked up long term, the better it is for everbody.
In any case, look for more of the same... and with teams in Washington and Tampa Bay that might actually be competitive this year, expect the Southeast to be very very interesting this season (except for Atlanta and the panthers... where the only interesting news will be where they are playing next season)