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Tracking the Storm

Thoughts on Free Agency, Draft

Monday, 06.29.2009 / 2:22 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Thoughts on Free Agency, Draft
Now that the draft has been completed (more on that below), Jim Rutherford and the Hurricanes will be busy trying to sign Erik Cole and Chad LaRose to new contracts before the start of unrestricted free agency on Wednesday.

Paul Branecky
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Although an agreement with either player is still not imminent, that could potentially change in a hurry. With both sides apparently viewing July 1 as a firm deadline to get a deal done, it’s feasible that concessions could be made by both sides near the last minute if there really is a strong mutual desire for the player to remain in Carolina.

While it’s somewhat surprising that negotiations have gone on this long as the Canes have had a lot of recent success in keeping the players they want to keep with time to spare, it’s hardly a unique situation around the league the present moment. Very few unrestricted free agents around the league have agreed to return to their current teams since the Stanley Cup was awarded earlier this month – a list highlighted by Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis) and Petr Prucha (Phoenix).

What’s happening with the likes of Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Komisarek and the Sedin twins seems to be more common at the moment. Due to the current economic climate, it’s possible that players aren’t getting the offers they were expecting and have thus been reluctant to sign. It will be interesting to see if that improves if and when they hit the open market. The big-money teams around the league will always spend to the cap, but there will only be so much to go around.

Regardless of whether or not Carolina can come to 11th-hour agreements with Cole and LaRose before Wednesday, the team is not expected to immediately make a big free-agent splash of their own by bringing in new faces. As Rutherford said last week, the avenue to replace any departures would be through trades. There were certainly some discussions about that with other general managers at last weekend’s entry draft, but Rutherford has also said that he’s in no hurry to set his roster until the season gets much closer.

The Draft
It’s clear that the team wasn’t kidding around about its desire to add more size to the organization’s pool of prospects. Rutherford was hoping to come away with two players that had good size but ended up getting six – one for each pick.


Rutherford sizes up | Draft Surprise
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Paradis (27th overall) was a little surprising with the first-round choice as he wasn’t rated that highly by various scouting services, but he does exhibit some of the qualities that the team looks for when picking in that range. As a complete, two-way player, he seems like a good bet to at least be a player at the NHL level in some role, even if it’s not as a high-end offensive producer. As such, he may present a lower level of risk than others drafted near him, and if the scoring comes, that’s great. A heavy slap shot should help greatly in that department.

There’s also a lot to like about Brian Domoulin (51st), a two-way defenseman who should develop nicely at a strong Boston College program. As the biggest of the team’s picks at 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds, Mattias Lindstrom (88th) has already earned comparisons to Detroit’s Thomas Holmstrom and is exactly the type of physical presence the team was focused on landing over the weekend. Fifth-round choice Matt Kennedy (131st) will be interesting to follow over the coming years. A late bloomer at age 20, the Canes are hoping his 33-goal breakout season was the real deal and that he’ll continue to improve.

There’s always a wide divergence of opinion in the latter parts of the draft, but the Canes may have gotten a few steals at the buzzer. Despite their rankings in The Hockey News’ Top 100, Finnish defensemen Rasmus Rissanen (178th) and Tommi Kivisto (208th) were snapped up with the Hurricanes last two picks in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. Tony MacDonald was particularly surprised by the availability of Kivisto, whom THN ranked at 62. To get two players with some upside that late is a good sign.

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