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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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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