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Canes to Consider Defenseman in First Round

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 3:48 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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

[SSS_STANDINGS.METROPOLITAN_DIVISION_LABEL]
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06
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