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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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
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 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
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 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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