Canes Country's second of two mock drafts leading up to this weekend's event hypothesized that Carolina could use their glut of draft picks to move into the first round two more times and select three players on Friday night.
When Chicago ended Round 1 with the 30th pick, the Canes had just one, holding on to the seventh overall pick to select sniper Jeff Skinner. It seemed Carolina, although they tried to move back into the first round, would leave L.A. with one blue-chip talent and a wealth of second-day picks.
But GM Jim Rutherford still managed to walk out of the Staples Center Saturday with three first-round talents.With a total of 11 picks, plus an extra second-rounder in 2011, in the keep, Rutherford wheeled and dealed for the No. 21 picks in both the 2006 and 2007 draft. For Washington's 2011 second round pick and one of the Hurricanes’ sixths this year, Carolina acquired 2006 pick Bobby Sanguinetti from the Rangers. With the move, Rutherford not only bolstered his blue line for the future, but also gave the team a much-needed offensive option for their 2010-11 defense. He also further confirmed his long-standing creed that first-round defenseman are best acquired, not drafted.
"He’ll definitely be able to compete for a job this year," Rutherford said of Sanguinetti. "It will be a matter of what everybody else does also. But he has a couple years of pro under his belt now, and it’s along the lines of what I talk about: these defensemen get taken in the first round and end up getting with their second team and they start to mature a little bit more. We have several first round picks on defense that other teams took. [Tim] Gleason was one, [Joni] Pitkanen is another, [Anton] Babchuk is another, and now Sanguenetti. We’re kind of living off other people’s draft and them getting their development starting and us jumping in and still getting them at young ages."
Not only does the addition of Sanguinetti add another talented horse in a young stable of defenders, but it gives Carolina another much-needed point man for their power play, joining Jamie McBain as a player projected to be a long-time contributor with the man-advantage. And with Pitkanen set for unrestricted free agency and Babchuk presumably earning arbitration rights after this season, Carolina received help today without taking an eye off the future.
Sanguinetti is excited for the future as well, especially after a disappointing tenure with the Rangers that saw him shuffled back in the blue line pecking order.
"As far as a trade goes, you never know exactly if anything’s going to happen or not," Sanguinetti, a Trenton, N.J. native, said of being dealt from the team that selected him four years ago. "I was a little disappointed I didn’t play in New York [this season]. They had a good team with players like [Michael] Del Zotto and a lot of young guys. I kind of mentioned to them that I wouldn’t be unhappy with being traded. I’m really excited about the chance that I’m getting and Carolina’s a great organization heading in the right direction, and I hope that I can help out in the near future."
Also in the near — though maybe not as near — future — is Cornell forward Riley Nash. Nash, the 2007 No. 21 overall pick by the Oilers, was acquired from Edmonton for the 46th overall pick, the second three Carolina held in Round 2. Nash had been on Carolina's radar all season, courtesy of the keen eye of Ron Francis, the team's associate coach and director of player personnel.It was on trips to watch Cornell, where Canes defensive prospect Justin Krueger played the past four seasons, that Nash caught Francis' eye.
"I’ve seen him play at Cornell a few times, and I just mentioned to Jim that if this guy came available [to keep him in mind]," Francis said. "It was something we talked about with the second-round picks. We made a call to Edmonton and fortunately worked a deal out."
In Nash, Francis said he saw the kind of skills that make for a special player.
"There’s certain parts of the game, I think, that are very teachable and other things that aren’t," Francis said. "Some of things that are hard to teach are vision and the ability to see things on the ice that others don’t see. He has that knack. He has good hands. I just think he has a lot of the things that are tough to teach, so I think he’s a good prospect for us."
But while Sanguinetti could contribute as early as this year, Nash will likely take a little more time to crack the NHL.
"He’s got a year left of college, so Jim will have to have a chat with his agent first and see where things stand and kind of go from there," Francis said of the possibility of Nash playing pro hockey in the fall. "He needs a little more work but, as I was saying, I wouldn’t put it past him. He has a lot of good tools, so hopefully it will be sooner rather than later."
Throw in AHLer Jon Matsumoto, who was acquired from Philadelphia for one of Carolina's two seventh-round picks, and the Canes used draft weekend to not only draft eight players but also add three other assets that could contribute at different times down the road for the organization.
While it all seems a bit unconventional, Rutherford was ready to walk away from Los Angeles feeling satisfied with the Canes’ efforts over the weekend.
"Some years the draft falls your way and some years it doesn’t," Rutherford said. "This is a year where we kind of stayed put, we didn’t move around with our picks and we’re real pleased with the way it fell."