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Wild vs. Hurricanes
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.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60