While Carolina hasn't been in the news much recently, many of the franchise's past players sure have been. Let's take a quick look around the league and see what's up with some of them. You'll find that in most cases, their fortunes have changed for the worse since leaving Raleigh. Maybe current players should take notice before they consider leaving for a few more bucks sometime in the future!
Matt Cullen: Peter Laviolette said it. Jim Rutherford repeated it. Many Hurricanes fans are agreeing. Matt Cullen was the player most missed last year who departed from the 2006 championship team. The funny thing is, he's like a forgotten player right now for the New York Rangers. After they signed highly sought after free agents Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to huge deals this off season, Matt could be the odd man out in key situations on the ice this year. Will New York want to trade him? He's still owed 2.8 million per year for each of the next 3 years which is kind of expensive for a 3rd line center. Still, Matt has proven himself to be valuable on the power play as well as in shoot outs. He's more than just a 3rd liner. Oleg Tverdovsky where are you when we need you? Unfortunately, the only way the Canes could afford Matt right now is to dump salary along with the trade. I can't see how that could happen at this point.
Oleg Tverdovsky: Speaking of the Russian defenseman, after he was traded to the Kings as a salary dump, he played sparingly and continued to perform below the value of his 2.5 million dollar per year contract. He still has one more year on that contract, so it will be interesting to see how Los Angeles deals with him this year.
Martin Gerber: As Luke DeCock mentioned in Lord Stanley's Blog the other day, the Senators have been trying like mad to trade the Swiss goalie, but to no avail. It is rumored that they may send him to the minor leagues this year so that his inflated salary doesn't count against their cap. He is due to make 3.7 million per year for the next 2 years. That's a lot of bread for a 2nd string goalie! In fairness to Martin, he did play well for the Sens in the last part of the year when he covered for an injured Emery and won 12 games in a row. Caniacs all know that Gerber can be a wall at times. He single-handedly won a couple of games for the Canes in 2006 when the team played poorly in front of him, something that neither Ward or Grahame could do all of last year. But 7.4 million during the next 2 years is going to be too much money for most teams to take a chance on. It seems that Ottawa has made the decision to make their bed with Emery, one way or the other. Could Gerber be a buy-out candidate?
Aaron Ward: Like most of his ex-mates above, Aaron has had some bad luck and not fared very well since leaving the Hurricanes. He seemed to play pretty well for the Rangers at times last year, but then had a personality conflict with enigmatic superstar Jaromir Jagr. New York management decided to get rid of the problem and deemed it to be Ward because they traded him to Boston. Aaron, who is an excellent speaker and isn't shy about sharing his views has openly admitted that he made a mistake leaving Carolina. That feeling is mutual because the Canes certainly missed his physical presence on the blue line last year as well!
Sean Hill: The popular Canes defenseman left the franchise for the greener pastures of Florida a few years ago. After languishing with the Panthers, he signed with the Islanders last year and appeared rejuvenated. Unfortunately, that rejuvenation seemed to have been the result of taking banned substances, (steroids). Hill was suspended by the league for 20 games on the morning of a possible elimination playoff game against Buffalo. Needless to say, the Islanders weren't interested in re-signing him, but the Minnesota Wild were desperate enough to take a chance. Sean will be eligible to play for the Wild after serving the remaining 19 games of his suspension.
Martin Gelinas: Marty is still available as a free agent and will always be popular among the long time Hurricanes fans. In 2002, Gelinas scored the most important goal in franchise history, (at that time), to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs and send the Canes to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time ever. That wasn't the first big-time goal Marty scored, nor would it be his last. The dude has a knack for scoring game winning goals in the playoffs and he did it for Calgary the following year during their playoff run as well. But he hasn't looked very good in Florida for the past couple of years and his best years are certainly behind him. Does playing for Florida kill everyone's career or is that just my perception?
Kevyn Adams: I'm leaving the saddest case for last. Kevyn went from scoring 15 goals and being a vital cog in a championship team, to being a non factor, almost overnight. He was good on face-offs, good on the penalty kill, and always provided energy to the team when he was on the ice. But after a highly publicized scuffle with team-mate Bret Hedican during a practice, everything seemed to change for Adams. He seemed to have lost a step or two, so he was traded to Phoenix for Dennis Seidenberg. He finished the year scoring just 3 goals and accumulating a horrendous plus/minus of -20! After originally signing him, the Coyotes changed their minds and bought out Kevyn's contract so right now he is without a team. What an extreme change of events for a player who was always a friend to fans, no matter what the situation. We wish Kevyn the best of luck and hope that some team gives him another shot.
Tonight Eklund posted a rumor that Carolina is on the verge of announcing a trade! We'll keep our eyes on the news feeds tomorrow just in case, although Eklund also posted that the Canes might be interested in Eddie Belfour. Hello? Did Maggie the monkey come up with that one? There's no way the Canes would be interested in Eddie and I'm sure the feeling is mutual, especially after those "diving" comments he made last year. In other news, the full season schedule is supposed to be released soon by the NHL, and all fans are looking forward to that! Before you leave, feel free to check out the poll on the right and vote for the ex-Cane who you prefer. Ciao!