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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes to Consider Defenseman in First Round

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 3:48 PM / 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 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45