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Focus Turns to Free Agents

Monday, 06.15.2009 / 3:35 PM ET / 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.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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