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Every team has a free agent wishlist. Some have more money to spend than others do and some seemingly have unlimited budgets. The Canes of course need a 3rd line center and have about 2 million to spend, give or take a few dollars. While I have seen lists here and there of players that the Canes might be interested in, I have yet to see Bryan Smolinski's name highlighted on any of them. I'm wondering why not? The other day Luke DeCock mentioned a few names on Lord Stanley's blog. The number one center he listed as a possibility is Todd White. He claimed that none of the other free agents available and affordable are "slam dunks". I'm wondering why Todd White is considered a slam dunk while Smolinski isn't? As a matter of fact, I haven't seen Smolinski's name mentioned as a target of any team on any list. I don't get it. Has he got an attitude problem or something?

If we review some of the numbers I looked up last week, Smolinski's numbers beat White's in every category. During the past 3 years, he's scored more goals, had more assists, played more games, and has a better plus minus rating. I'm not saying Todd White would be a bad pickup, but he's been hurt for quite a bit of the past 3 years, Smolinski hasn't. Both players earned about the same amount last year, (1.5 million), and both should be available for about what the Canes want to spend again this year. I just think we should be targeting Bryan Smolinski!

Smolinski-3 year average: GP 81 G 18 A 28 TP 46 PIM 44 +/- +12

White-3 year average: GP 63 G 13 A 24 TP 37 PIM 22 +/- +6.

You tell me, at the same price who is the better value?

Luke also lists Zubrus, Stumpel, Lang, York, and Lindros as possibilities. I guess if the Canes can't sign White or Smolinski, they should look at Zubrus and Stumpel . (Correction, Stumpel has just been re-signed by Florida). I would say no way to Lindros. His NHL ship has sailed, in my opinion. Lang and York both scare me as well. They would have to take big pay cuts from what they made last year and I doubt that they would be very motivated to play hard. They are already known as not being the most hard working of players. That's not the type of acquisition that Rutherford usually targets, or the Canes need. I'd rather see Bobby Hughes or Brandon Sutter play the position than those guys because at least the youngsters would be giving 100% every night.

Some of the other centers I had on my list were, Michal Handzus, Michael Peca, Yanic Perreault, and Tyler Arnason. Arnason has since been re-signed by Colorado. Handzus is reportedly seeking more money than the Canes want to pay. Peca isn't wanted back again by the Leafs. (If they don't want him, should the Canes?) The choices are becoming more and more limited as time goes on. There are also more trade rumors circulating around. Could the Canes somehow end up with Jason Blake? I really doubt it. They would have to get extremely creative regarding their current salary structure, (trade a big name), and I can't see that happening. But with Jim Rutherford, you never know.

One more congratulations to all of those who were selected for the Hall of Fame on Thursday! Poor Igor Larionov will have to wait another year. Somewhere out there Pierre MacGuire is crying emphatically, telling anyone who will listen..."It's unconscionable that the Russian wasn't selected!!".

I'm out of town for a few days, up in the great white north visiting friends and family. But, I have my laptop and will keep posting! (Maybe not as often as usual.) The Sabres fans I have talked to are very unhappy about the strong possibility of losing both Briere and Drury. Plus, there are lots of other unanswered questions concerning other players. I see that the new salary cap number was finally announced. Just in time! Which teams will be going for broke and hitting that 50 million dollar cap? It's going to be an interesting July 1st!

Pearl Jam