Flyers vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

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.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60