There's lots of small talk going on in the Caniac Nation about the Hurricanes defense. John Forslund discusses it in his latest blog posting, "Is it Time"?. Luke DeCock talks about it in his latest post on Lord Stanley's Blog, "Kaberle or Seidenberg"? The messageboards have been ripe with the discussions for weeks. What's difficult about all of this in my opinion, is that the exact problem is not easy to identify and is even harder to fix. Forslund says that the Canes need a puck-moving defenseman, and that has seemed to be the focus of the team since the summer. But most of the fans that I talk with seem to think the Canes need more of a physical presence. Maybe they need both?
Let's examine what Forslund has to say first. He mentions that the time is right for a trade, but trading in this day and age of a salary cap is harder than ever to do. He doesn't give any possible acquisition targets, but he does offer up Andrew Ladd as possible trade bait. Ladd still has a ton of upside, but is he helping the team's needs as of this moment? At this time I would have to say no. The team needs help on defense and they could probably survive without Andrew right now. I would be very hesitant to give up on Ladd though. The franchise has already traded away one very high draft choice in Jack Johnson, they should be very careful before they trade away another one. The only way that I would trade Ladd is if the Canes were getting back a defensive prospect of close to equal pay, (RFA) status, and potential. Players that I would consider looking at would be Brent Seabrook or Cam Barker of Chicago or Ryan Suter or Shea Weber of Nashville. Both of these teams seem to be well-stocked with young defensemen and these players are similar to the pedigree of Ladd. Another interesting name that keeps coming up in trade rumor talks is John-Michael Liles from Colorado. He's a young, American, puck-moving defenseman who might fit in well here. He's scored double digits in goals in each of his 3 years in the league. The problem is that he will be an unrestricted free agent next year and I am sure that Jim Rutherford would not want to give up Andrew Ladd's possible bright future for just a partial year fix at defense. Now you see what John Forslund means when he says that this isn't easy! Here is a rumor from a Colorado sportswriter who has a feeling that Pittsburgh might trade Marc-Andre Fleury in a package for Liles and others. That's a tough one to believe. You know as soon as the Pens give up on Fleury, it will come back to bite them. Hey, if the Avs are looking for a goalie, why don't we package Johnny Grahame and a middle to late round draft pick for Liles? Sounds good to me!
Now let's take a look at Luke's posting about Dennis Seidenberg and Frantisek Kaberle. Many fans have been clamoring for Kaberle to be benched in favor of Seidenberg. Kaberle has had an atrocious year for the most part and plays with very little to zero physical edge. His "upside" or offensive capabilities have been almost non-existent as well. Even though he's been on the point of the 2nd power-play unit all year long, his point production is a miniscule 5 assists. Seidenberg isn't afraid to use his body and hits people on a regular basis. His point production is equal to Kaberle's and he's played 10 fewer games, plays fewer minutes in the games that he does play, and has much less time than Frank does on the powerplay. On top of all this, Kaberle's plus/minus is zero while Seidenberg's is at plus 4. Luke says that Kaberle is higher on the coach's depth chart because Kaberle makes better decisions than Seidenberg does. While I'll admit that Dennis does make questionable decisions at times, as a fan I'd much rather watch him hit people, shoot the puck, (he even shoots harder), and give 100%, even if his decision making ability is lacking. (the plus/minus evidence doesn't support that argument) In my opinion, Kaberle just isn't giving enough, especially considering he's the 2nd highest paid blueliner on the team at 2.2 million. I realize that he has never been a physical presence, but perhaps this team wouldn't be in such dire need of a puck-moving defenseman if he was doing his job?
In other news, Scott Walker is very close to returning to action, perhaps as soon as Wednesday night against Philadelphia. It will be a game day decision, but the odds are looking good right now. That will be a fun night when Scottie finally returns, I have always enjoyed watching him play. Finally, tonight there will be another Canes Corner. Mike Maniscalco will be interviewing none other than Matt Cullen!Â I wonder if Mike will ask him some questions about his time in New York, and what happened between Jaromir Jagr and Aaron Ward? Cullen has looked great so far this season and has been an assist machine, especially on the powerplay. He's currently on pace to double the production that he got on the Rangers last year, which seems to indicate that Rangers coach Tom Renney was clueless about Cullen's abilities and how to use them. The interview will be at the Saw Mill Tap Room, or you can listen live on 99.9, The Fan.