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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

no last minute deals for Hurricanes

The trade deadline came and went with no transactions by the Hurricanes. I'm a little bit surprised by that. I wasn't at all expecting any player aquisitions, but I was half-way expecting to see the Canes give up one of their expendable (read: Andrew Hutchinson) defensemen for draft picks. There were no rumors of any significance other than an ancient one involving sending Hutch to the Oilers.

The Canes are in a strange situation where they have too many defensemen and nothing that they can do about it. With Anton Babchuk down on the farm, the Canes still have no fewer than nine healthy defensemen. While it's not a bad thing to have a few on reserve, the Canes are in a tough spot because the only thing they can do about it is to make some of them healthy scratches. None have two-way contracts, which means that they can't be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. If they don't clear waivers on the way back up, the original team loses the player (and half his salary) and gets nothing in return. Not a risk worth taking.

In the extreme short term, this might be a problem. Assuming that Mike Commodore, Frantisek Kaberle, Bret Hedican, Nic Wallin and Glen Wesley are every day players, there are four guys battling for the sixth (and sometimes seventh) spot in the lineup. Hutch has been the odd man out all season, and will continue to be. David Tanabe has been playing well and deserves the ice time. Tim Gleason has been inconsistent, but has shown signs of brilliance. Dennis Seidenberg hasn't been terrible, but looks to be another obvious odd man out. Seidenberg and/or Hurchinson could have found ice time elsewhere, and the Canes could have gotten something in return.

Ask the Buffalo Sabres if there's ever such a thing as "too many defensemen on the roster" and they'll remind you of what happened in the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs. Some will point to Darcy Regier and blame him for not shoring up the team's blueline needs at last year's trade deadline, but just about anyone will say "you can never have too many defensemen". As I said, though, the problem is that we can't store any of them in Albany.

The bright side of this blight is the "big picture". Looking to the future, it's almost impossible to imagine the 83-year-old Glen Wesley returning in 07-08. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the team bought out the remaining season on Bret Hedican's contract. Mike Commodore has one season left, and will most likely be renewed after the 07=08 season. Kaberle and Wallin are both signed through the 09-10 season. David Tanabe is playing the best hockey of his career, is cheap and WANTS to stay in Carolina. He'll be re-signed. Gleason and Seidenberg, both of whom are still very young, will be RFA after the 07-08 season. Gleason should be a top four blueliner by then. Anyway, the point is, Carolina will be set for the next couple of years defensively. With a lack of NHL-ready defensemen in Albany, Carolina will need to let their prospects grow, and should be glad to have a handful of young NHL-calibre blueliners entering the prime of their careers.

Most importantly, it'll be nice to have all these eager guys available when one of our defensemen suffers an injury heading into or during the playoffs.

In short: Carolina has a glut of defenseman. Lots of folks wanted one of them moved for a draft pick or two. It's not the end of the world that nothing happened.

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