I couldn't make it to practice this morning, but Chip Alexander posted a quickie over on LSB which got my attention. Time for me to put on my "columnist hat" and interject a little opinion.
Chip reported that Joni Pitkanen was wearing a white jersey this morning, and was practicing with the forwards. Specifically, he was skating with Eric Staal and Ray Whitney.
Carolina's problem is obvious. The Canes have extra defensemen and are short of forwards right now. It didn't help the situation that Rod Brind'Amour and Tuomo Ruutu sat out of practice this morning. Brind'Amour is still nursing his knee a bit, and Ruutu got banged up against Detroit.
The team needs some warm bodies playing forward, but why Pitkanen? Of course, he is very good on offense and has a ton of skill, but this guy is being billed as the franchise defenseman. He was the "cure for team defense" that the team traded Erik Cole for. Is this really the best use of your franchise defenseman?
Peter Laviolette was quoted on Paul Branecky's blog as saying "We're not really looking at anything. We're banged up right now and we had a couple of guys who couldn't go out there to keep practice moving along."
But Pitkanen was quoted as saying he had not played wing, "since he was a little guy".
It seems like they could have used either Anton Babchuk or Joe Melichar for that role, if this was just a fill-in for one practice. Can you imagine if Pitkanen would have gotten hurt somehow, while he was playing out of position? Stranger things have happened in Carolina.
Perhaps Laviolette was giving a not-so-subtle message to Jim Rutherford, that he needs another forward, sooner rather than later?
Pitkanen has played very well so far and leads the Canes with ice time, but he has admitted that he needs more work at moving the puck out of his zone, at a faster pace. Is he going to improve in that area while practicing as a forward?
It's no secret that Rutherford is working the phones hard, trying to trade a defenseman for a forward. At the present time, the Hurricanes have two million dollars in salary sitting in the pressbox each game in Babchuk and Melichar. In most cases, less expensive assets would be sitting there.
One rumor floating around has the Canes trading either Joe Corvo or Frank Kaberle for Boston's Peter Schaefer. But Schaefer was recently put on waivers and was unclaimed. The forward is now in the minors, so that rumor doesn't seem to have any legs.
Something is bound to happen sooner or later regarding a trade, but right now, mum's the word.