The Carolina Hurricanes started off the season with an 11-4-3 record, built up a double digit lead in the Southeast Division, and were once considered among the top teams in the NHL. But their record in the past 30 games has been an embarrassing 12-17-1 and their lead in the division has evaporated. So what happened, why the big turnaround?
There have been injuries and sicknesses for sure, but how much of that can that be attributed to the downfall? What are the other factors? Is it the goaltending? Is it the defense? Are the forwards helping out enough in their own end? Has the coaching staff lost the ear of the players? This blog has received comments alluding to each of these possible causes, and more.
In the recent interviews given by Jim Rutherford, the Canes General Manager blames the defense. In this article posted on WRAL.com describing his interview on "99.9 The Fan", he is quoted as saying....
â€œOur team is still missing what weâ€™ve talked about for quite some time,â€ he said. â€œOn our defense, weâ€™ve got to be more mobile.â€ Rutherford has evaluated trades that might help Carolina in that regard but said the price for a mobile defenseman is high. â€œThose guys are not easy to get,â€ he said. â€œWhen you get one of them you have to pay a pretty good price to get them. â€¦ â€œWeâ€™re still going to work on that. That would give our team a better chance to win, if our defense could be a little bit quicker.â€
Now I have to ask, whose fault is that? Mr. Rutherford says that this is something he has talked about for some time, but he has done absolutely nothing to correct the problem. Why not? Because these guys are hard to get and you have to pay a price to get them? Seems to me that if you know the defense is slow and not as mobile as they need to be, you need to make some changes to fix the problem. You can't expect them to change by themselves. Should Caniacs cross their fingers and hope that the defense suddenly becomes quicker and more mobile?
The fact is that the Hurricanes defense was not very good last year and there were no changes made to make an upgrade over the summer. Everyone knew the defense would be the weakness for the team before this year started and this was mentioned in all the pre-season predictions. Still nothing was done. Now the team has allowed 170 goals against, the 2nd highest in the entire league. They are in extreme danger of falling out of the division lead and not making the playoffs. Mr. Rutherford even admitted that no other team in the league allows as many break-aways, odd man rushes, and wide open opportunities as the Canes do.
So what is it going to take to get a deal done? How far does the team have to fall? We know that it's hard and we know that it's expensive. But is it impossible? The bottom line is, how badly does Canes management want to win this year? Are they willing to do what it takes to make this team a winner or will they wait it out? If they are not going to make an upgrade on defense, they might as well go into "seller" mode before the trade deadline because in my opinion, I can't see this defense changing very much in the next 30 games. What is going to make them get better?
Let's take a look at each of them, give some possible trade values, and we will see where the problem lies....
- Bret Hedican- damaged goods, has a no trade clause, untradable
- Nic Wallin- oft injured, slow footed, only 3rd pairing defenseman in the league with a no trade clause, untradable
- Glen Wesley- slow footed but great shot blocker and usually dependable on the PK, little trade value
- Dennis Seidenberg- has potential but inconsistent, acquired for a slumping 4rth liner, little trade value
- Frantisek Kaberle- has had a horrible year on all accounts, even Keith Jones from Versus noted it, negative trade value
- David Tanabe- currently has concussion, but even healthy has little or no trade value
- Tim Gleason- has had good games but can be inconsistent, is an unsigned RFA next year, has good value
- Mike Commodore- after great year last year has fallen off this year, unsigned UFA next year so that takes away from value, but he still has some
So by my estimation, there are only 2 out of 8 Hurricanes defensemen that have much of any trade value at all. That about says it all right there. Does anyone disagree with me? Mr Rutherford, you have your work cut out for you, but with all due respect you don't need to look far for the primary person to blame for the present situation.
In other news, the All Star skills competition and Young Stars game will be on Versus tonight. It doesn't excite me enough to talk much about it, but I will be watching. Happy Saturday!