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The Best of What's Around

Carolina management is meeting this week to discuss various team needs, the draft, and to see if they can agree on who they should target during next month's free agent feeding frenzy which starts on July 1st. They obviously will be looking at the "best of what's around" out there, especially concerning their dire needs at the 3rd line center position. The News and Observer is reporting that Jim Rutherford, Jason Karmanos, Peter Laviolette, Ron Francis, and Marshall Johnston will be attending the meetings. Rutherford will attend a day later, after returning from the NHL General Manager's meeting in Ottawa today. Some of the names being bantered about as 3rd line possibilities are, Todd White, Michal Handzus, Michael Peca, and Joe Vasicek. Out of those 4 players mentioned, White interests me the most. Todd has been a pretty consistent point producer for his previous teams, most recently Ottawa and Minnesota. He scored 40 points or more the past 2 years for the Wild and previously he had 50 point and 60 point years for the Sens. He should come pretty cheap too as he only made 1.5 million last year.

Handzus and Peca both will probably command more than 2 million a year. Both had major injuries last year and played minimally. Peca made 2.5 million and scored 15 points in 35 games for the Leafs. Handzus made 2.1 and played only 8 games in all of last year. He is an intriguing gamble though if the Canes could sign him for less than 2 million. We all know what Vasicek brings. He was pretty good at grinding and cycling last year at times, but we need more point production from that position and I'm not sure Joe can provide it. Finding a productive 3rd line center isn't a unique problem in the NHL. Every team is looking for an affordable option. The Canes got lucky when they signed Matt Cullen for $684,000 and got the production that he provided two years ago. Such a signing and the outstanding performance that Matt gave is more the exception than the rule, but that's why GM's earn the big bucks! They all try to find that cheap diamond in the rough.

The longer the wait, it looks more and more like Scott Walker's days as a Hurricane are behind him. If the Canes end up needing to replace him, that opens up a whole new set of problems and needs that we'll have to discuss another day.

Of course management will also be addressing the logjam on defense. With 8 defensemen under contract, there's not much that can be done there unless there is a trade or the Hedican question is resolved. If you are going to make a trade, the question is who do you trade among them? Wallin has signed for multiple years with supposedly a no trade clause in his deal. Commodore, Gleason, Wesley, and Kaberle are probably untouchable. That leaves just Seidenberg and Hutchinson, neither of which are huge commodities on the open market. We won't speculate about this until later this week after the results of Hedican's physical are hopefully made public. Rutherford and company certainly have their work cut out for them in the coming weeks.

In a brief follow-up from my last post, Chris Pronger received a 1 game suspension from the league for his cheap shot hit on Dean McAmmond. That's about what I expected, but of course I was hoping for more. Ducks GM Brian Burke was downplaying the incident, but this is the same GM who stood up for Todd Bertuzzi after the Moore debacle. 'Nuff said about that. Happy Monday and Go Sens Go!

The Dave Matthews Band