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Tracking the Storm

Focus Turns to Free Agents

Monday, 06.15.2009 / 3:35 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Focus Turns to Free Agents
Now that the Hurricanes have taken care of the coaching situation, it’s time to turn their efforts over to the unrestricted free agents.

Paul Branecky
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Much in the same way they kept their bench staff intact, they will at least attempt to bring back every member of the team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before succumbing to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins. 

However, after having preliminary talks with the agents for Ryan Bayda, Erik Cole, Chad LaRose and Dennis Seidenberg, General Manager Jim Rutherford isn’t certain that the team can make that a reality before losing the players’ rights come July 1.

“The team that we finished the season with was a good team,” said Rutherford. “If we had to play Pittsburgh again under difference circumstances where we’re not coming off two seven-game series and are a little healthier and not as mentally drained, I would be fine going into another series with Pittsburgh with the same team.

“But, it never works out that way,” he continued. “There are going to be changes, because somewhere along the way we’re not going to be able to agree with everybody on their contract wishes.”

Rutherford identified one potentially troublesome situation on the team’s defense involving Seidenberg and Anton Babchuk, who is a restricted free agent along with Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu. Restricted free agents cannot leave to play for other teams unless they are traded, making their situations less urgent, but they will still require a new contract in order to continue playing for Carolina.

“I don’t know at this point whether we can bring [both] Seidenberg and Babchuk back,” said Rutherford. “That will be a little bit tricky, because Babchuk doesn’t need to be signed as a restricted free agent until after July 1, while Seidenberg probably does. In one sense, we could end up with both and we could end up with neither one of them.”

Regardless of how that develops, the Hurricanes will have their eye on adding a more defensive, physical presence to their back end to offset the wealth of puck-moving offensive players that have arrived over the last few years, such as Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen. Avenues to accomplish that include a trade with another team or the signing of a free agent.

“I hope we’re not looking for anybody on July 1,” said Rutherford. “I hope we can either do it with this group of guys or if make a trade to make an addition. If we could add a physical guy [on defense], that would help us.”

Although the start of free agency will be a key date to help sort out the situation, Rutherford did caution that there would not be a rush to acquire such a player if the team does indeed decide to pursue that route.

“We don’t have to do everything prior to game one,” he said. “We’ll see how our team is and what kind of start we get off to, and just like we do every year when we get to a certain point, we’ll add a player when we need to at the right point during the season.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 43 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 48 10 19 -13 29
E. Lindholm 48 9 11 -12 20
R. Nash 48 7 13 -4 20
J. Tlusty 41 12 7 -12 19
J. Skinner 43 10 9 -8 19
N. Gerbe 44 5 13 -4 18
V. Rask 48 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 46 1 14 -6 15
J. McClement 48 1 9 -2 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 11 17 4 .914 2.37
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .914 2.41