The Hurricanes are obviously at the razor's edge between a playoff spot and another season outside looking in. Jim Rutherford is once more in the catbird seat. He has at least $9 million of NHL salary cap space. He has numerous players with expiring contracts. He has Dalpe and Boychuk both of whom have demonstrated they can play at the NHL level. Tlusty is coming back from a serious knee injury and then a separated shoulder, but he has the ability to play solid defense and to fit well in the top nine.
Jim Rutherford also has assets in Charlotte such as Bowman and Nash that he could consider moving for more established players. He does not have a plethora of veterans who have high demand and high return on a trade. Pitkanen surely would bring the highest return of the veterans with expiring contracts who would be considered as tradable assets.
There are two glaring holes in the team's make up, both of which have been described in detail, as it presently exists: (1) a big, fast, physical top six forward with scoring ability and (2) a big, fast, physical shutdown defenseman. The Fourth Period recently reported a rumor that the Hurricanes were looking to buy rather than sell. http://www.thefourthperiod.com/news/car110120.html On the other hand, the Fourth Period seems to be saying the Hurricanes want to add assets but not salary, which is the hockey equivalent of saying the Hurricanes want to go swimming without getting wet.
With a number of teams, from the Penguins to the L.A. Kings looking for a top six forward, the Hurricanes are going to have a challenging time find a candidate for the top six. I haven't seen any play where a commentator following the Hurricanes suggested Samsonov was likely to be retained. He seems to be one player Jim Rutherford would trade if he could. The issue for Jim Rutherford is finding a team whose style would accentuate Samsonov's strengths will de-emphasizing those areas where he is less effective. For GMs who have followed Samsonov's career, he can be good in the playoffs and can help get the puck to scorers. Samsonov could help a playoff team on the power play, for example.
Cole is another player who might be in demand; but given the problems the Hurricanes have with too little size at forward and the need for speed at forward, that option seems somewhat unlikely to me. Cole is playing his best hockey in over four years. When Cole is on his game, he can be a dominating player; and he has been on his game this season with much more consistency that he has been since he was hurt by Orpik.
LaRose seems to be a player who is more highly valued by the Hurricanes organization than other teams; so unless Laviolette decides he needs LaRose to play his energy/agitator role for the Flyers and persuades the Flyers to ante up the cost, I don't see LaRose being traded at the trade deadline. I do believe for the right price, LaRose would be traded.
Pitkanen and potentially White appear to be the most tradable defenseman with Pitkanen being the potential gangbuster trade candidate. Maybe a team like Columbus or the Kings would be willing to part with their first round draft pick plus a roster player or top prospect for Pitkanen.
Harrison has been playing very solid hockey and is at the NHL minimum; but even with his fine season, I can't see much demand for him. On the other hand, Jim Rutherford was able to trade Wallin, Aaron Ward, and Alberts. I would much rather have Harrison that Wallin, Aaron Ward, or Alberts; so perhaps Jim Rutherford could work out a trade that includes Harrison with the idea that Carson is ready to be the #6 defenseman. Still, in the January 20th game against the Rangers, Harrison showed his grit and that type of grit is needed by the Hurricanes.
Of all the trade scenarios, I think trading Samsonov and Pitkanen are the two most likely to occur. Only time will tell what rabbits Jim Rutherford is able to pull out of the hat.