Bruins vs. Hurricanes
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 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62