The Carolina Hurricanes won't be one of the teams throwing big money and long term contracts around today once the noon whistle blows, but they should be pretty active as they try to fill in a couple of important roster spots.
At this point it seems inevitable that Erik Cole will test the market, and who can blame him? He's listed near the top of the list of available forwards and with owners like Buffalo's Terry Pegula throwing around 10 year contracts, it probably makes good sense for him to see what kind of money is out there.
According to Jim Rutherford, he's ready to move on if Cole signs elsewhere. Rutherford could make a trade or he could look for a different free agent. He also realizes that it is a tight market and he'll have to move quickly.
Dave Droschak spoke with Rutherford late yesterday and published some more Cole related quotes on Hurricanes Beat. The Carolina GM also mentioned that they would spend about $1 million for a backup goalie and while Martin Gerber was not high on their list, he might bring a player back to Carolina.
Let the speculation begin.
The Million Dollar Goalie:
Let me start off by saying that I doubt that the player who might be coming back to Carolina is a goalie. Manny Legace played in Germany last season and if they wanted him, they could get him at a cheaper price than $1 million. John Grahame played in the AHL last season and he certainly wouldn't be on the list.
I have another idea who this player might be. More about that in a bit.
Lee published an article last month about possible goalie candidates for Carolina, but let's take another look at who might be available in that million dollar price range:
|2010 - Alex Auld||16||749||6||2||33||2.64||383||350||.914||0|
The price would be right for Auld, who made $1 million last season. He also did a decent job at backing up Carey Price when given the chance.
|2010 - Peter Budaj||45||2439||15||21||130||3.20||1234||1104||.895||1|
Budaj saw a lot of action last season, (probably too much) and his stats were down from previous years. He made $1.25 million last year and might accept a lesser role along with a change of scenery for $1 million.
|2010 - Joey MacDonald||15||721||5||5||31||2.58||372||341||.917||1|
MacDonald would probably love to get a raise from his $550,000 last year. He's another goalie with good numbers as a backup.
|2010 - Brian Boucher||34||1885||18||10||76||2.42||902||826||.916||0|
Boucher sometimes had problems as a full time goalie but would be a perfect backup. He made $925,000 with the Flyers last year.
Johan Hedberg earned $1.5 million last year and will probably get a bit of a raise because he did well for the Devils. Jose Theodore is also a free agent but he will also probably come at a higher price tag than $1 million after playing more than 30 games for the Wild.
There are other experienced goalies in that price range who had tough seasons last year but who might be considered: Chris Osgood, (.903), Ty Conklin, (.881), Marty Turco, (.897), Mathieu Garon, (.901), and Patrick Lalime (.890).
Third and/or Fourth Line Center:
I reviewed several center candidates back in this article last month, but let's take another quick look.
|2010 - Eric Belanger||82||13||27||40||11||36||1||1||2||127|
It would not surprise me if the Canes brought back Belanger. He is in the right price range, (made $750,000 last year) and had a decent season. He is also is very good at faceoffs, (55.3%) and kills penalties as well. The "wild card factor". A couple of years ago when Peter Karmanos criticized Peter Laviolette, one of the complaints he brought up was that the coach mis-handled some players. He used Belanger as an example. And we all know the Canes love their reclamation projects.
|2010 - Vernon Fiddler||71||6||16||22||3||46||0||1||2||97|
Another good faceoff man but with less production than Belanger last season.
|2010 - Jeff Halpern||72||11||15||26||6||29||0||1||3||62|
Great team guy, great faceoff man, and can kill penalties. Made $600,000 last year.
|2010 - Zenon Konopka||82||2||7||9||-14||307||0||0||0||56|
This player is tough as nails and is a beast in the faceoff circle, (57.7%). A lot of teams are talking about him, so he'll probably get multiple offers. He earned $600,000 last season.
|2010 - Marty Reasoner||82||14||18||32||2||22||0||0||4||124|
If the Canes are looking for a third line center who can do a little of everything, Reasoner might be a very good candidate. Excellent faceoff guy, (54%), good penalty killer, and will score in the neighborhood of Chad LaRose points. He made $1.2 million last season.
As always, it should be a very interesting day. I'll start an open thread at noon for ongoing discussion.