Although Canes GM Jim Rutherford says discussions with his colleagues about trading a defenseman and cutting salary are increasing, the injury to Justin Williams won’t speed them up just yet.
”It’s too early to tell,” said Rutherford. “I think we really have to go through training camp to see what we’ve got and see how guys come back in and who’s ready to go. It could get to a point at some time that we look at trading a defenseman for a forward, but we aren’t ready to do that yet.”
On the current roster, Rutherford named Chad LaRose and Ryan Bayda as players on the top nine who could help fill the void by Williams, who underwent successful surgery on his Achilles tendon Thursday afternoon. He also pointed out the presence of Patrick Eaves, who will likely assume a larger role.
Besides those three, Rutherford singled out Jeff O’Neill as someone who has as good a chance as any to help soften the blow.
”Trying to replace a guy that’s a 30-goal scorer is difficult,” said Rutherford. “Who has a chance and an opportunity is Jeff O’Neill. Certainly if his conditioning gets caught up with everybody, we may have a guy that can replace a 30-goal scorer.”
With enough seemingly capable players already waiting in the wings, Rutherford suggested that finding out why two of his players have already needed surgery to fix problems that arose in pre-camp workouts might be a bigger priority than making a trade.
”We’ve had a couple of years of really bad runs with injuries, but that doesn’t mean this has to continue,” he said. “I do think we have to take a closer look at how our players prepare themselves and how they train, because I’m not so sure that it’s just bad luck and maybe there has to be some adjustments as to how the players are prepared.”