A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Kaberle set to return, trade imminent

The latest news is that Frantisek Kaberle is set to return to action after missing the first 55 games of the season after shoulder surgery this summer. His eagerly anticipated return means that the Canes will have no less than 10 healthy defensemen.

Coach Peter Laviolette likes to dress seven defensemen on occasion, and they could carry up to nine if they had to, but they will have to make some roster room somehow.

Obviously, sending a player to Albany would clear some roster space. Carolina might do this with Anton Babchuk. If I remember correctly, he's the only defenseman with a two-way contract. Even if he is sent down, Carolina is likely to turn a trade sometime this afternoon or Tuesday morning.

Carolina, who is clinging to the eighth playoff spot in the East is still considered to be a "buyer" in the trade market, but is in such a position of defensive surplus that they could do a bit of selling as well.

The names that have come up most frequently as "trade bait" are David Tanabe and Andrew Hutchinson. The Boston game notwithstanding, Tanabe has played well of late and might be more marketable than Hutch. He signed a one-year, $900k contract this summer, and would be an excellent stop-gap addition to any team's blueline with very little price tag.

Andrew Hutchinson is in the first year of a two-year deal which will pay him just $500k next season. That wouldn't be much of an albatross on any buyer's neck, but his defensive acumen isn't as strong as Tanabe's. There's been a lot of talk out of Edmonton about a trade involving Hutch, but I don't know what would be involved on the other side.

What Carolina needs is a third line center or winger. There are a lot of Eric Belanger detractors here in Carolina, but I don't have a problem with him. I do, however, have a problem with Trevor Letowski. He hasn't panned out here, and I think the Canes would be well served to package Letowski with Tanabe (or Hutchinson) and possibly a pick for a quality winger/center.

Edmonton is interested. Of their lot, Shawn Horcoff fits the bill quite nicely here. However, his price tag is $3.6M, and still has two years left on his contract. Don't see that happening. Marty Reasoner wouldn't be an upgrade at all. Nor would Petr Nedved. I don't see the Oil willing to part with one of their top forwards, so I just don't see a Canes/Oil deal happening.

Boston needs defensive help, and with their season pretty much done, they're definitely a "seller". Brad Boyes seems like a fair trade. He's got one year left on his contract, which will pay him $1.6M next season. I like that idea a lot, but I'm not sure that the B's would want to part with one of their top young players. One "insider" thinks that Marco Sturm is headed this way. He might fit in, but I would think that the Canes front office would rather give up youth for youth, so Sturm might not be the one.

Chicago is in in the same boat Boston is. Season lost, needs defense. They're rumored to have Radim Vrbata on the chopping block. He's had his time here, and it just didn't work out. But thanks for Anton Babchuk. Martin LaPointe is also rumored to be trade bait. Again, this wouldn't be an upgrade for the Canes unless there's a high pick involved. At $2.4M, too expensive anyway. We'll take a pass on that.

Of course Philly comes up. They're a team Jim Rutherford likes to trade with, they're hopelessly out of playoff contention, they need defense. I refuse to entertain the Foppa rumors. He's WAY too expensive, his skill set is rapidly diminishing, and he's too much of an ass clown.
Mike Knuble? A little old, but he's still plenty talented, comes cheap, and coach Laviolette likes him. It might not pack the same kind of bang that a big name trade would, but it would be nice.

Anson Carter is a name that's out there as trade fodder for the Blue Jackets. This summer, I loudly said that I would have liked to see him in a Canes sweater, but now I'm not so sure. I think his excellent season last year had everything to do with the Sedinbots and little to do with a newfound skill set. He signed a one-year deal over the summer, and was overpaid at $2.5M.

Florida is said to be in the market for a defenseman, but I hate the idea of an intra-division trade.

I don't have any idea, basically. Just expect Hutch and Letowski or Tanabe and Letowski to be packaged for a forward. I won't expect anything of blockbuster proportions, but you never know. A big name might be the only thing that could rescue Carolina from the doldrums.

Kaberle is scheduled to join the team in Montréal Tuesday, so we'll know in the next 24 hours. I just hope it's something good.

My money is on either Boyes or Knuble.

3 comments:

Pens Insider said...

I like your use of the bold titles for teams. Allowed me to quickly see if you discussed any teams I was interested in. This was my first visit but I will be back.

CasonBlog said...

Great post. I think it will be tough for JR to swing a player-for-player deal with only Hutch, Tanabe and/or Letowski to offer. I hope he steers away from a big ticket rental like Forsberg. I'd rather see the club hold 'em than throw cash and pics/prospects for Forsberg.

The most marketable guy who probably doesn't figure into the long term plan is Ray Whitney. Trading the leading scrorer seems rather dopey on a team that can't score and can't play much defense.

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