Tracking the Storm

Canes to Consider Defenseman in First Round

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 3:48 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes to Consider Defenseman in First Round
Although he’s willing to break with recent philosophy and draft a defenseman in the first round, Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford still plans to keep his options open.

Paul Branecky
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A number of blueliners, some of whom should be available with the 12th overall pick in the upcoming draft, have intrigued the team’s scouting staff to the point that Rutherford would consider picking one on the draft’s first day for the first time since 2005, when he selected Jack Johnson at No. 3.

However, that doesn’t mean that the team is definitely looking to bring one into the fold.

“There’s a group of five or six defensemen that our guys really like this year,” said Rutherford. “If in fact a defenseman is the best player at 12, we’ll take him, but we’re not going to take a defenseman just to take him and pass on forwards that have a much bigger upside. It will still end up being the best player at 12.”

In the past, Rutherford has preferred forwards in the first round, believing that, historically, they have a much better chance of helping the team that drafts them. Conversely, defensemen, who face a more gradual development curve, often hit their primes around the age of 25 when the drafting team may have already run out of patience or can no longer afford to keep them.

It appears that those core beliefs haven’t changed, but the pool of players has.

“There’s just more of them to pick,” said Rutherford. “There will probably be three of them at 12 for us to consider.”

Depending on what happens with teams in front of them, the Canes could choose between several different types of defensemen. If they’re looking for offense, Ryan Murphy, once Jeff Skinner’s teammate with the Kitchener Rangers, fits the bill. If it’s size, the 6-foot-7, 244-pound Jamieson Oleksiak of Northeastern University certainly stands out. Others, like Saskatoon’s Duncan Siemens, provide more of an all-around game.

That has Rutherford convinced that he would avoid a repeat of previous first-round defensive choices such as Igor Knyazev (15th overall, 2001) and Nikos Tselios (22nd overall, 1997) – picks that simply didn’t pan out.

Regardless of whether he decides to pick a defenseman or use his fifth consecutive first-round pick on a forward, Rutherford clearly stated his intention to hang on to his pick rather than trade it.

“We’ll stay right there,” he said. “Our staff feel very strongly that the top 15 guys are real good players. Unless something really strange happens, we won’t try to move up.”

Even though they Hurricanes have shied away from defensemen in the first, they’ve been pleased with their efforts in the second, landing Jamie McBain (2006), Brian Dumoulin (2009) and Justin Faulk (2010).


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72