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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.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81