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Tracking the Storm

Rutherford on Trade, Future Plans

Friday, 07.24.2009 / 2:05 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Rutherford on Trade, Future Plans
When Jim Rutherford went shopping for defensemen this summer, one of his main goals was to get a player capable of playing alongside Joni Pitkanen. In Aaron Ward, he feels he’s found that player.

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“He’s a right shot, he’s big and strong and he can play the minutes,” said Rutherford of Ward. “Joni obviously plays a lot of minutes for us, and we needed someone that can consistently play there. Last year different players like Anton Babchuk, Dennis Seidenberg and Niclas Wallin moved in and out , but now we have our pairs set.”

Ward is expected to be a fixture alongside the big Finn, who led the team in minutes played per game last season with 24:48. The other pairings will feature a continued partnership between Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason and a third pairing of Niclas Wallin and newcomer Andrew Alberts.

As with the re-acquisition of Erik Cole at last year’s trade deadline, Rutherford pointed to Ward’s non-existent learning curve as an advantage of this deal.

“He’s an easy fit because he’s got friends on this team, he knows the area, he loves living here and has a lot of fans here,” said Rutherford. “This is a trade where there’s really no adjustment.”

The current defensive group, along with several young players knocking on the door, has Rutherford feeling pretty good about his collection of rearguards – not to mention his entire roster – for next season.

“It’s another bigger guy,” he said. “We talked about getting our team bigger, and we’ve added two big, strong guys in Alberts and Ward to our defense.”

Still, he may or may not be done, depending on what happens between now and training camp.

“We could stop now and I could feel pretty comfortable going into camp and the start of the year,” he said. “But now is the time where some funny things happen. Certain players kind of become available because the first month of free agency has almost gone by. Sometimes there are some veterans that may make some sense to give you some depth or that have won somewhere else. 

“It gets to the point where it’s musical chairs,” Rutherford continued. “If a player doesn’t jump in and grab one of those chairs by the time the season starts, there may not be a chair left. Some of these players are going to have to take a lower salary than they thought, so there may be a player who pops up that we like and can fit in.”

Ironically, Patrick Eaves could be available soon. After acquiring him from Carolina in exchange for Ward, Boston, who is trying hard to fit players under the salary cap, immediately placed him on waivers with the intention of buying him out. Unless someone claims him, Eaves will become an unrestricted free agent.

While more depth signings may or may not happen, there are more pressing issues to be ironed out with defensemen Anton Babchuk and Frantisek Kaberle. The addition of Ward makes a contract buyout of Kaberle seem even more inevitable than it already did. As for Babchuk, Rutherford said today that he was hoping to have that situation sorted out one way or another by the beginning of next week.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60