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Depth Players to Battle for Spots Next Season

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 4:35 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Depth Players to Battle for Spots Next Season
It may not be at the top of the offseason to-do list, but the Hurricanes’ fourth line tends to look radically different from season to season. At times, it can change from game to game.

Paul Branecky
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To some extent, both of those trends should continue from now through training camp. It’s entirely possible that none of the three players who start there next season are currently under contract to do so. Such is the clean slate that the team has to work with.

With that in mind, a number of familiar faces will be in contention to fill those roles. The most likely holdover candidate is Patrick Dwyer, who finished last season centering that unit following the departure of Ryan Carter via trade in March. However, if he returns, it likely won’t be in that exact spot.

“We put him in different situations, but he’s not a natural center,” said Rutherford of Dwyer, who will become an unrestricted free agent if not re-signed prior to July 1. “We’d like to get him back to being the fourth-line right winger.”

With Rutherford having already stated his intention to bring in a new center via free agency to help with faceoffs and penalty killing, a handful of internal candidates would remain to fill out the left side. They could include the likes of Troy Bodie, Jerome Samson, Brett Sutter and Jiri Tlusty – all of whom saw time with the Hurricanes last season. While others, such as Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe will also be battling for jobs, their spots will likely be higher in the lineup.

Of the group contending for fourth-line jobs, Tlusty may be the most intriguing. Originally the 13th overall pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006, injuries and inconsistency have limited his development. As he’s set to become a restricted free agent once again, the Hurricanes may elect to essentially give him a do-over on the one-year pact he signed last season for the league minimum of $500,000.

“We’ll look to do a one-year deal with him,” said Rutherford of Tlusty, who missed most of training camp while recovering from knee surgery and went on to suffer a shoulder injury just when he was staring to produce offensively. “We had him pegged last year to be in our top nine, but then he ended up in the top 12 and I think that’s where he’s going to have to start – as a fourth line player. There’s still an upside to him because he’s a very smart player.”

Provided the Hurricanes field a healthy lineup, competition could be fierce between Tlusty and the likes of Samson, whose grinding style worked well in that role for the final quarter of last season, and Sutter, who is projected to fill a checking role at the NHL level despite having just led the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers in playoff scoring with 14 points (4g, 10a) in 16 games.

Although he’s spent almost all of his time with the Hurricanes on the right wing, Bodie, a restricted free agent, could be brought back to provide muscle if needed. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Bodie, who led the team with 10 fighting majors last season, easily provides more size than the aforementioned three players, all of whom stand at an even six feet and approximately 200 pounds.

Even though Bodie sat out the final 13 games of last season as a healthy scratch, Rutherford has indicated that he may fit into team’s plans moving forward.

“I think there’s a place for Bodie in our organization,” he said.

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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