For the past 2 plus years the Canes have struggled and have failed to make the playoffs. To remedy this failure us fans were told the team was going to get back to the playoffs through the draft and development of our young players. The team has drafted fairly well (better than average) as can be seen from the following history:
2011 - Ryan Murphy (12th), Victor Rask (42nd)
2010 - Jeff Skinner (7th), Justin Faulk (37th)
2009 - Phillipe Paradis (27th), Brian Domoulin (51st) (Paradis traded for Jiri Tlusty who was Toronto 1st round in 2007)
2008 - Zach Boychuk (14th), Zac Dalphe (45th) (Note: Boychuk's NHL stats through 2011 were 69 games, 7 goals, 11 assists, -2, 6 Penalty Mins)
2007 - Brandon Sutter (11th), No 2nd round pick
2006 - Jamie McBain (63rd), no 1st round pick
2005 - Jack Johnson (3rd), Nate Hagemo (58th) (Note: Jack Johnson's career stats through 2011 were 335 games, 30 goals, 93 assists, -86, 250 penalty mins)
(Note: Jack Johnson traded for Tim Gleason, Gleason was 1st round pick in 2001 (23rd)), Hagemo suffered a career ending shoulder injury in college and never turned pro.)
2004 - Andrew Ladd (4th), Justin Peters (38th) (Note: Andrew Ladd traded for Touno Ruutu who was 1st round pick in 2001 (9th))
2003 - Eric Staal (2nd), Danny Richmond (31st) (Note: Richmond traded for Anton Babchuk who was traded for Ian White who was traded for Derek Joslin)
(Note: Richmond received honorary Stanley Cup Ring from Blackhawks in 2010)
As can be seen we have developed several very good (even star) players such as Staal, Sutter, Faulk, Skinner, McBain, and Johnson (who turned into Gleason) and Ladd (who turned into Ruutu).
During the current season all of us fans have been crying for the team to play our newest draftees (Boychuk, Dalphe, Bowman, Smason, etc.). In my view it is critical that we do this now. This team according to management's own assessment is in need of at least the addition of one top six forward. There are four ways of accomplishing filling this need:
1. Finish so lousy this year that we have such a favorable draft pick that we can draft one in the first round. If that is to be the case, who should we draft if available to us? I don't know enough about them to have a valid opinion. From what I read the two Russians look the best. Are they NHL ready?
2. Trade for a top six forward. To me to improve the team we would have to be able to trade with a team that would take some of our youngsters (Boychuk, Bowman, etc.), bottom six forward(s), defenseman, and/ro draft picks in return. Who should we target if this is the route to take? IMO Rick Nash would be a good target.
3. Have one or more of the young forwards we have already drafted step up and become a top six NHL forward. We have played these young players with the Canes in short 3 and 4 games trials for the past two and a half seasons. To date none that have been called up for these short auditions has produced enough offensively to fill the role of a top six forward. IMO the one who has shown the most promise to be an offensive force has been Boychuk. I realize that for some reason he seems to have fallen from favor with management, but when he was up he showed offensive creativity and was a tenacious player. I personally wish Muller would take a look at him and give Boychuk a good trial run and form his own opinion as IMO Mo frustrated Boychuk's development with his sticking him almost entirely on the 4th line. This being said, I am becoming concerned that none of our current crop of prospects is going to pan out to be a scoring top six forward. What do you think?
4. Sign a free agent in the off-season. IMO this would be the easiest method if it could be accomplished. My concern is that the number of bonafide top six forwards that will be available will be slim, and in that field will be even slimmer when you weed out those free agents who will not sign here for any amount of money (Parrise for example). I am not aware of all the forwards who would be free agents, so I need your help here.
I do note that Jiri Tlusty appears to be on the verge of becoming a bonafide 20 goal scorer, but IMO we need to add another top six forward regardless of any further improvement on Tlusty's part. Also note that to me solving this need for a top six forward will become a severe probledm if we do not resign Ruutu.