BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 26: Defenseman Justin Faulk #25 of USA celebrates his goal during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between USA and Finland on December 26, 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. Faulk will try to impress at training camp in Carolina starting this weekend. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The Carolina Hurricanes pretty much felt like they had their defense all taken care of during the offseason, but a couple of youngsters promise to spice things up and make it very interesting on the blueline this training camp.
The biggest move, and probably biggest surprise of the Carolina summer was when the Canes traded Joe Corvo to Boston and then signed free agent, Tomas Kaberle, to a three-year deal. The former Leaf and recent Stanley Cup Champion with Boston should help to improve an inconsistent powerplay and will join returning veteran regulars Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, and Bryan Allen.
While he is not yet a vet, Jamie McBain should also be considered in the starting group, leaving only one position up for grabs. Here are some of the top candidates who will be competing for that spot.
- Jay Harrison The former Leaf has improved every year while in Carolina and was rewarded with a two-year, one-way contract over the summer. He's usually a steady, physical guy in his own end but he's not necessarily dynamic and is not considered to be a puck mover.
- Derek Joslin The blueliner was deemed expendable by San Jose but usually looked good in his 17 game debut with Carolina last year. He seems versatile enough to contribute on the powerplay, but also plays a physical game. Will he be consistent enough in camp to earn a starting spot?
- Justin Faulk The highly regarded rookie will be making a strong bid to make the Canes, even though he only played a few games with the Checkers last season and has limited pro experience. Still, he won the NCAA Championship with his college team last season and impressed a lot of folk in Traverse City last week. They also say his conditioning is NHL grade right now. It looks like he's the real deal, but is he ready now?
- Bobby Sanguinetti The Canes obtained the former Ranger in a deal during the 2010 draft, but the defenseman suffered from injuries a good part of last season. He is healthy and ready to go now but he'll have to be on top of his game to beat out these other players for a spot on this team.
- Ryan Murphy Carolina's first round draft pick also impressed in Traverse City and Jim Rutherford was quoted as saying that he already has NHL level skills, but unlike what Jeff Skinner accomplished last preseason, it's much tougher to make it in the NHL as a rookie blueliner, than it is as a forward. Whether he makes the team or not, much like Victor Rask, he'll be fun to watch in camp.
Michal Jordan, Justin Krueger, Rasmus Rissanen, Brett Bellemore, and Kyle Lawson have each made nice strides toward improvement, but they probably have too many players to jump over to have a legit shot at making the Canes this season.
Will Murphy make it impossible to send him back to Kitchener? Will Faulk continue to impress? Will Joslin outplay Harrison?
New defensive coach Dave Lewis and the rest of the Carolina coaching staff will be looking for the answers.