Anything is possible in the NHL, but based on previous seasons the Canes would need to win 42 of their remaining 66 games to maybe squeak into the playoffs. With Staal and Cam out for who knows how long, this is about as likely as me winning the lottery. So, what do the Canes do now? I say they look to bring a player or two back through a trade, load up on prospects/picks, reduce payroll, and gain some NHL experience for the kids.
I read a couple of articles from Chicago about how they might be in the market for a 2nd line center. I know Whitney was rumored to Chicago, but wingers are not what they need. The article discussed the Hawks acquiring Cullen or Brind'Amour or even Staal. The Staal for Campbell, Versteeg, and a draft pick would be ridiculous in my opinion. The Brind'Amour and something for Barker would peek my interest. I just don't think Chicago would do that. If anybody would take Brindy, please JR; make it happen. Cullen to Chicago; now that is a real possiblilty. I think we would be looking for Sharp or Barker in return and both players could do well with the Canes. Cullen is in the final year of his contract and because JR has given so much to Staal and Cam, it would be unlikely Cullen would return.
I also think JR should have a sit down with Walker and Whitney, thank them for their services, and ask them to waive their no-trade contracts. Trade them to a contender or a surprise team for either some prospects or picks. Since their contracts expire after this season, we could always bring them back (if they or we want to) next season at a much friendlier number. If we could trade AWard or Wallin, I would do that in a heartbeat, but I don't believe anyone will take those players. If Cullen for Barker would go down, it would be easier to trade Joe Corvo. He might be our most tradable asset at this time, so who knows what we could get for him. Others will disagree with me and I know Sammy is playing well recently, but I'm not a big fan or his. If someone would give me something for him, I would jump at it.
If some of these trades would happen, the Canes would then be able to call up and keep some of the kids from Albany. Let's try to determine what we have, so we can be better prepared for next season. Sutter is here to stay and Boychuk will be on this team next year. The questions arise after those two. Are Bowman, McBain, Rodney, Carson on next year's squad? We need to find out this season, rather than getting off to another slow start in 10-11. Attendance is going to struggle the rest of this season, at least give the fans some hope with playing "the future" now.
The last thing the organization needs to do is to work hard to prepare for the draft. We are probably looking at a top 3 pick, probably #1. If we can acquire more picks, this year's draft may be the cornerstone of the Canes future. We have improved some recently, but scouting has not been the Canes best quality. With our first pick, we are probably looking at Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, or John McFarland (knowing JR doesn't draft D-men if the 1st round and will probably stay away from the Russian). I haven't seen any of these kids play, I have just read things about them. Hall seems to be a scorer with speed that will probably play either center or left wing. He was compared in Pavel Bure. Seguin is a playmaking center, he was compared to Joe Sakic. McFarland is a very good skater with some size, no comparisons listed. With so many young guys expected on the Canes roster next season, we will have to replenish the minor leagues (especially with how injured we always are) with good prospects.
Just for perspective, this could be the opening line-up for the Canes next season.