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Waiting for the Axe to Fall: Will Jim Rutherford Clean House?

While waiting for the inevitable trades, I started imagining what might happen in a full house-cleaning by Jim Rutherford. I recall last season after a lackluster performance by the Hurricanes in a game against Toronto, Jim Rutherford came into the lockeroom at intermission and said he would have to blow up the team if it did not perform. To me a full bore house-cleaning is not guaranteed, but it is a genuine possibility.

I started thinking from a reverse engineering standpoint; and started to look for young prospects who could be game changers for the Hurricanes. I did not focus on the probabilities of obtaining these prospects or the cost of doing so. In terms of the draft, the consensus opinion seems to be that to obtain Ruutu, Gleason, Allen, Spacek, or Harrison would take either two first round draft picks or a first round draft pick and a top prospect. I speculate that Jokinen could be obtained for the same high price, although because Jokinen has a three year contract, I think that is less likely.

From the standpoint of adding high end, if not elite, talent to the Hurricanes, I look to future stars. In my view, Johansen, Couturier, Brett Connolly, Zibanejad, Scheifele, Landeskog, Bjugstad, and Burmistrov all fall in the category of superb prospects who could make a very positive impact on the team.

Assuming the various hockey commentators are correct that the Flyers are interested in Gleason and Ruutu, then potentially Couturier would be in the conversation. The Senators apparently are also interested in Ruutu, which might bring Zibanejad into play. Columbus is also apparently preparing to conduct a major rebuild. It is hard to envision Johansen coming into play; but then again a player like Ruutu has the character to go with Nash and help the team rebuild. I can't fathom how Columbus can weather a three to five year rebuild. Florida has Bjudstad and could potentially look toward Gleason or Ruutu as key players for a playoff run. I don't see any scenarios where Scheifele, Landeskog, or Burmistrov become available. Brian Burke is a strong-willed, self-confident, and creative GM. I could envision Burke deciding he wanted Gleason or Ruutu. In that scenario, Colborne and a first round pick might become the price. Kadri also potentially might be available depending on how intensely Burke wanted to make a deep playoff run.

The 2012 draft class is also quite strong. The various scouting services are literally all over the board in listing the order of players from #6 to #30. As a result, if Jim Rutherford goes the full rebuild route, in addition to the Hurricanes' first round pick the Hurricanes might have first round picks from trading Ruutu, Gleason, Allen, Spacek, and possibly Harrison. With five first round picks in 2012, the Hurricanes could reload the talent base significantly. It is likely the Hurricanes will have a top five draft pick, and depending on the Hurricanes luck in the lottery, Yakupov, Girgorenko, Galchenyuk, and Forsberg are likely to be available. I am leaning toward Galchenyuk or Yakupov at the moment.

Additional high impact players likely to be available for the Hurricanes if they obtain four more first round picks might include: Girgensons, Gaunce, Faksa, Kerdiles, Frk, Matheson, and Wilson, among others. From this perspective, the Hurricanes could by revamping the team dramatically increase the high end talent available at forward in the organization. In less than a month, Jim Rutherford's plans will be clear. In the meantime, the waiting is the hardest part.

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