One month after receiving the news that LW Cory Stillman would need shoulder surgery and would miss possibly half the season, the Canes learned that D Frantisek Kaberle would also need shoulder surgery and will be expected to miss 4-6 months. (story)
Kaberle, who scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in game 7 against the Oilers, has been battling a lingering shoulder injury. Last month, he told doctors that he was feeling better, giving hope that he could avoid surgery. Kaberle was first on the team among defensemen, and 23rd in the league among defensemen in scoring, with 44 points (6/38).
This is an unfortunate turn, but when players play hurt during the playoffs, and there's so very little turn-around time from the Cup finals to training camp, this is what happens. Carolina has depth at defense, but they will have to depend upon some younger players to really step up. Anton Babchuk, who I really have liked, will probably be asked to step up his role from "guy in the shadows" to every-day player. Andrew Hutchinson won't be a healthy scratch very often, like he was last season.
It seems really bad, but like I say, Carolina does have depth. These guys can't "replace" Kaberle, but they'll be good stand-ins. They'll probably have defensive parings that look like this:
Oddly enough, I honestly see Hutch getting more playing time than Tevvy, who is the Canes highest paid defenseman. Tevvy has, without question, been a major disappointment. We're hoping that while he sat in the press box during the Stanley Cup Finals as a healthy extra, he took the time to realize what he needed to do in the offseason. We certainly hope he shows up to camp in better playing shape and has sharpened his skills. All this Tevvy-hating aside, Hutch is quite good at running the point on powerplay. This is one of Kaberle's strengths, so we'll obviously need someone to do the same in his stead. Don't bet the mortgage on it, but I'm guessing that Tverdovsky and his $2.5M will be riding the pine, while Hutchinson and his $450k starts in his place. In a pinch, Hutch is also capable of playing at left wing. It'll take some getting used to the fact that Scott Walker, not Hutchinson, will be wearing #24. Hutch will switch over to #28.
4 years ago