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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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
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 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
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 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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