Ever since I put up the latest poll inquiring about which ex-Cane should come back into the fold, things have been a buzz about Matt Cullen possibly returning. Most of the buzz is coming from News and Observer reporter, Luke DeCock. Does he have an inside track on something, or is he just making an Eklund type of assumption? Let's examine this whole thing in more detail. At first glance, a deal would make sense for both teams. The Rangers undoubtedly have cap issues. I'm sure that they would love to dump Cullen's salary, but are they willing to accept lesser value in exchange? By lesser value, I mean would they accept someone like Trevor Letowski or Andrew Hutchinson? The Rangers would shed a net of 2 million in salary while the Canes would only take on the additional 2 million. It certainly seems doable for the Canes this year, as Luke points out in his column today. The problem comes during the next 2 years because the Canes already have signed another third line player, Scott Walker, to 2.5 million per year. By the time you add in the expense of another winger, that's a lot of money to allocate to the third line. If you check the Canes Salary Chart, you'll see that Cory Stillman and Andrew Ladd will both need new contracts next year as well as most of the current defensemen. Only Nic Wallin and Frank Kaberle are signed past 2008. It would be nice to have some money left over next year to sign a top rated defenseman, but if they trade for Matt, the money just won't be there. It's a tough decision, but Matt is a known commodity here and brings more to the table than just a third line presence. He could win a couple of games for the team using his shoot out skills alone. I hope they figure out a way to get the deal done, but only if the Canes don't have to give up anyone of value. Matt's contract is just too expensive to give up a valuable draft pick or something similar. We'll see what happens!
The new schedule has been released and the Canes open at home again against an old, familar playoff foe, Montreal. After the home opener on Wednesday, October 3rd, the Penguins come to town on Friday, October 5th. Get your tickets early, both of these games are sure to be sold out! Other highlights include games before and after the Thanksgiving holiday as well as the traditional New Year's Eve game. The longest road swing is for 6 games, (during the State Fair time span), so that aspect of the schedule is not too bad. There are more back to back games though than there were last year, and that could be a problem. We'll look at that more closely at a later time.
In other news, Red Deer coach, Brett Sutter is reportedly accepting the open New Jersey head coaching position. Brett is the father of the Canes number one draft pick this year, Brandon Sutter. I wonder how much lee-way Devil's general manager, Lou Lamoriello will give to Sutter. After he fired his last coach right before the playoffs last year, anything is possible. If I was Sutter, I would demand a guaranteed, multi-year contract. Then at least if Lou gets nutty and fires his coach at an odd time again, Sutter would still get paid.
Will Matt Cullen return to where he had the best year in his career? Edmonton general manager, Kevin Lowe might have something to say about that. He's still hungry to lure talent to the frozen tundra. Have a good one!