Tracking the Storm

The New Defense: Part Two

Tuesday, 09.9.2008 / 7:34 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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The New Defense: Part Two

While Tim Gleason, Joe Corvo and newcomer Joni Pitkanen are entrenched in the Hurricanes defensive corps, there remains a good deal of uncertainty about who will round out the top six..

There are certainly enough bodies to fill the rest of the unit - too many, actually. 
Anton Babchuk, Frank Kaberle, Josef Melichar, Dennis Seidenberg and Niclas Wallin are all on one-way contracts, meaning they can’t be reassigned to Albany without clearing waivers first.  Even if they did, the Canes would be on the hook for their full NHL salaries – not exactly good value.

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With those five defensemen for only four spots (David Tanabe, still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and on a two-way deal, is excluded), General Manager Jim Rutherford says he wants to trade one of them and save some salary in the process.

”I’d like to move one defenseman more from a budgetary point of view than anything,” he said.  “We have one more than we actually need.”

He expects that will happen, but probably not until training camps begin around the league in a few weeks.

“Right now on the trade front things are kind of slow,” said Rutherford.  “I think that anytime from now until the start of the season more teams will move players around.  There’s a couple of teams that have to spend more money to get up to the floor and there’s some teams that need to shed some money because they’re over the cap  There will be quite a bit of movement in the league here in the next six weeks.”

If dumping salary is Rutherford’s main objective, Kaberle makes the most money outside of the top three with a cap hit of $2.2 million for the next two seasons, according to nhlnumbers.com, an unofficial yet great resource for this type of thing.  Until recently the Canes best offensive defenseman, the arrival of Corvo, Pitkanen and to a lesser extent Babchuk could also make him expendable.

Next is Wallin with a cap hit of $1.7 million, but he’s refused to waive his no-trade clause in the past.  After that, none of the aforementioned blueliners make over $1.2 million.

Atlanta, Los Angeles and Phoenix are the three teams currently under the minimum payroll of $40.7 million, again according to nhlnumbers.com.  Any of those teams could probably find use for whatever it is the Canes would offer them.

As far as which defenseman will play where among the Canes eventual top six or seven, Rutherford suggested Gleason and Pitkanen will play together on the top pairing, and the number four defenseman would likely be determined by who fits best with Corvo on the second pairing – probably a stay-at-home type to counteract his offensive skills.

”You have Joe playing his style, and then we want someone there that complements him,” said Rutherford.  “Will Nicky Wallin go there?  Will Melichar go there?  Will Seidenberg go there?  That’s really up for grabs.  But there are guys who are capable of jumping in there.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72