At some point during the past season, the Carolina Hurricanes shifted from "rebuilding" mode and decided to shoot for the playoffs. Hence, about a week before trade deadline day, they made a trade with the Florida Panthers to bring crafty 37-year-old, Cory Stillman, back to Raleigh.
The cost was not much, Ryan Carter (a UFA this summer), and a 5th round draft pick, but the acquisition said a lot about what the franchise was thinking at that moment. In acquiring someone like Stillman, management showed that they were certainly not going to trade away the likes of Erik Cole, Joni Pitkanen, or other pending UFA's, which might have brought a tidy sum of assets back to the franchise. They were buyers, not sellers.
If the Hurricanes would have made it to the playoffs, of course the deal would have looked like a very good one. But since the team came up a game short, most fans would probably prefer to have that 5th rounder back right about now.
Carolina faces another question during this offseason. Do they bring Stillman back for another year?
That's a question for another day, for now, let's take a look at how the player did as a Hurricane last season.
|2010 - Cory Stillman||21||5||11||16||2||4||2||0||1||39|
The Good: Stillman immediately made the team better offensively and fit in nicely on the first line with Erik Cole and Eric Staal. He is one of those players who is always looking to make the pass and that mentality especially seems to fit well with Staal's game. His 16 points in just 21 games, (a .76 points per game average) was the third best points per game average on the team behind Staal and Jeff Skinner.
For those of you who advocate a "no touch" icing policy, check out Stillman's repertoire. At least one time per game, he will try to pass the puck all the way down the rink off the end boards to a streaking winger. This past season that winger was Cole, who usually had a step on the defenseman and beat him to the puck. If the NHL changes their current policy to "no touch" icing, they take away that exciting play.
Stillman is extremely skilled with the puck and is usually good on the powerplay. Six of his 16 points were scored with the man advantage.
The veteran is also good in the room and shares his vast knowledge with the younger generation on the team.
The Bad: Stillman is not necessarily known for his defensive acumen and unlike most other forwards on the team, had more giveaways, (16) than takeaways, (10). He did finish with a (+2) though, ninth best on the team and fourth highest among forwards. He had minimal PK time and is not a penalty killer.
While the skilled forward is looked upon to be a powerplay specialist and he did score six of his 16 points while on the powerplay, the unit struggled mightily at times and he was a part of the futility. The team was near the top of the league in drawing penalties and should have finished with a higher percentage, (15.9%) and league ranking, (tied for 23rd). He had the fourth highest powerplay "time on ice average" (3:49), on the team.
The Money: The winger is coming off a three year contract which paid him an average of $3.5 million per season. He will be in the free agent marketplace looking for a new deal and the Hurricanes could be in the mix. The vet could always retire if he doesn't get the money he's seeking, but he seems to still have some game left in him, so he'll probably end up somewhere. My guess would be he'll get a one year deal for between $1.5 to $2 million.
Note: Although he was healthy while with the Canes, Stillman has had injury problems and that will certainly be factored into any offers he receives. He missed 19 games in 2008-09, 24 games in 2009-10, and 17 games this past season.