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Checking In On The Ex-Canes

Here's a recap of some ex-Hurricanes around the NHL (and some guys in the minors who were part of significant trades), how they're faring, and what to expect in the future.

Bret Hedican — Hedican got what he wanted when he landed a one-year deal on the West Coast with the Ducks. In 10 games with Anaheim, the 38-year-old defenseman has one goal and is logging 15:23 minutes a game.
What to expect: The season-ending knee injury to Francois Beauchemin could mean more minutes for Hedican. Beauchemin was playing more than 25 minutes a night, including seven and a half minutes of special teams time. With the Ducks' cap squeeze, bringing in another player would require shedding salary because Beauchemin was a bargain at $1.65 million. With Bobby Ryan recalled, it could make a forward (Chris Kunitz?) expendable if it meant getting back a blueliner. If new GM Bob Murray can't swing a deal, expect Hedican's ice time to increase.

Aaron Ward
— Ward continues to be the rugged rearguard who helped lead Carolina to two Stanley Cup finals appearances. In 17 games, Ward has two assists, is a plus-4 and is playing nearly 21 minutes a night for the Bruins (fourth most among B's d-men).
What to expect: Ward continues to be reliable, but he will be 36 in January and has had some injury issues in the past. You can expect Ward to be reliable, but don't be surprised if he misses some games due to the style of game he plays. He is signed through 2009-10.

Andrew Ladd
— Ladd was a possibility on the first line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but has instead become a third-liner with the Blackhawks, playing mostly even-strength minutes. Through 16 games he has three goals and four assists with a plus-5 and is averaging 12:39 minutes a night. He's been hot of late, registering six points in his last six games, including two assists Saturday vs. St. Louis.
What to expect: While he has played well recently, Ladd hasn't seen an increase in his ice time under new coach Joel Quenneville. It might be time to expect Ladd to be a third-liner who will hit and score on occasion instead of a potential top-six forward.

Craig Adams — Adams has played very little this season, going pointless in four games and averaging just more than six minutes an outing.
What to expect: Not a true enforcer and not getting PK minutes, Adams has limited potential impact on Chicago's roster. Still, at just $600,000 a year he's good to have in a pinch, but don't expect him to land a new deal in the Windy City after this year.

Mike Commodore
— In the eyes of many pundits, Commodore may never live up to the $18.75 million he'll make in Columbus the next five seasons, but through 18 games he's back to being the physical minute-eater he was when he was at his best in Carolina. He has nine assists (and leads all Columbus d-men in points) and 28 PIMs for the Blue Jackets, and is plus-1 while averaging 22:17 a night. He's an underrated puck mover and his 47 hits leads Columbus and ranks 18th in the league.
What to expect: I think Commodore is doing exactly what he's capable of thus far this season. If Columbus can fight their way into the postseason, Commodore will provide valuable experience and grit. He's still on the right side 30 and over the next four years shouldn't see a deterioration in his skill or durability. That being said, he could be susceptible to injury given the way he plays the game.

Erik Cole
— Cole's struggles with the Oilers have been overshadowed by the terrible play of Dustin Penner. But with Penner off to the press box, Cole — along with second-year forward Sam Gagner — may be in the spotlight given the lack of production. Through 17 games, Cole has just five points on three goals and two assists with a minus-3. He's averaging just less than 16 minutes a night, but played about a minute more Saturday with Penner on the bench. With three minutes a night on the power play, Edmonton desperately needs Cole to produce more.
What to expect: Cole is at a pivotal point in his career. He will be an unrestricted free agent following this season and his past injuries, coupled with his struggles, could potentially scare off many teams. In his defense, most of Edmonton's forwards are struggling, but that won't mean much to a team thinking about who to shell out millions of dollars to next offseason. If the Oilers can't get into playoff position, expect Cole to get dealt to a contender for the stretch run. His play in the playoffs will go a long way in determining his value on the open market. Could a bad season from Cole lead to a discounted return to Carolina?

Jesse Boulerice — Boulerice recently signed with Edmonton after enforcer Steve McIntyre suffered a broken orbital bone in a fight. He played just a sliver less than five minutes in his first game with the Oilers.
What to expect: This might be Boulerice's last chance to make an impression as an NHL enforcer. To the average fan, he's probably best known for a couple of violent stick incidents and getting one-punched by Aaron Downey. Not a sparkling resume for an NHLer. Still Boulerice is a decent pugilist who could carve out a spot with an NHL team if given the opportunity.

Cory Stillman
— The 34-year-old winger is with his third Southeast team and has been arguably the Panthers best forward early this season. He missed three games with a concussion, but in 13 games he has five goals and four assists with a plus-3 in just less than 17 minutes a night.
What to expect: Stillman's never been the best skater or best defensive player, but his creativity with the puck will likely make him productive into his late 30s when his contract expires in 2011. The big question is will he get back to the playoffs with the constantly rebuilding Panthers.

Los Angeles
Jack Johnson
— He's still hurt, and it really breaks our heart. In two games he's pointless and minus-3.
What to expect: Johnson's got all the skill to be an elite blueliner, but rookie Drew Doughty looks like he's already a more capable and complete player. He's an RFA after this season and hasn't yet earned the big-money deal many young superstars are expected to land after their entry-level contract. It'll be interesting to see if he'll expect a lot of cash based on his potential rather than his accomplishments.

Eric Belanger
— Belanger's stint in Carolina was brief and unproductive. You can't say the same about his time in Minnesota. Through 15 games, Belanger has nine points (4-5-9) and is minus-1 in 18:25 minutes of ice time after tying his career-high in points with 37 last year for the Wild.
What to expect: Belanger is signed through next season and is seemingly a good fit for defense-first coach Jacques Lemaire. Belanger plays in all situations and is valuable to the Wild, but has managed just six points in 30 career playoff games. With the Wild on a path to the postseason, will Belanger be more productive?

New Jersey
Kevin Weekes
— With the injury to Martin Brodeur, Weekes was finally given a chance to grasp the reins of a No. 1 job again. But after a good showing in his first start of the season, Weekes was average at best in his next three and was pulled in the final game for Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen earned the next two starts, but has also been unimpressive. Weekes is 1-3 with a 3.06 goal-against average and .898 save percentage in five appearances.
What to expect: With Weekes — and then Clemmensen — struggling between the pipes, the whispers are already turning into shouts for the Devils to go out and acquire a veteran No. 1 to fill in for Brodeur. With New Jersey on the early season playoff bubble, Weekes needs to either step up and play well or expect New Jersey to let him walk after his contract expires after the season.

Doug Weight
— Weight made the most news with his hit on Brandon Sutter, but he has quietly put together good numbers for the undermanned Islanders. In 17 games, Weight has three goals and 12 assists in more than 19 minutes a night and is plus-1. The 37-year-old leads the team in points and is the only forward on the right size of the plus/minus ledger.
What to expect: The Isles are going nowhere fast, but Weight — who is on a one-year deal — could be a trade-deadline acquisition for a team looking for a third-line center and power-play contributor for the playoffs. Beyond that, it's hard to know if Weight will continue to play beyond this season.

Martin Gerber
— Gerber has again been supplanted as the No. 1 goalie in Ottawa, this time losing the job to journeyman Alex Auld. In six appearances, Gerber has just one win (1-4-1) and is giving up 3.17 goals per game and has a pedestrian .898 save percentage.
What to expect: Gerber is probably done for as a No. 1 goalie in the NHL. He could still wrestle the job back from Auld, but the Sens are a team in turmoil and are unlikely to re-sign him when his contract runs out at season's end. He could possibly be moved at the deadline to serve as a backup for a playoff contender, but Ottawa shouldn't expect much in return.

Tampa Bay
Mark Recchi
— Recchi has put up respectable numbers for the low-scoring Lightning, registering 12 points (3-9-12) and a minus-5 in 17 games so far this season in an average of 16:27 minutes a night.
What to expect: Honestly, who knows with Tampa Bay's management team. But with the Lightning expected — and living up — to their bottom-of-the-pile expectations, Recchi and his expiring contract could move at the deadline to a contender.

Gary Roberts — Roberts' production and minutes have been limited in Tampa Bay, but his locker room presence around the younger players like Steven Stamkos is probably worth the money. In 17 games, Roberts is averaging just more than 10 minutes and has two goals and an assist with a minus-4.
What to expect: Under new coach Rick Tocchet, Roberts — at 42, just two years younger than the head coach — could see more ice time given that he plays a lot like Tocchet did back in the day. Roberts, like Recchi, could move at the deadline for a shot at a second Stanley Cup and then hang 'em up.

Marek Malik — Signed six games into the season, Malik brings the same thing to the Lightning he's always brought: a defense-first blueliner who can play on the second or third pairing and not cost you any goals. Still, Malik's toughness will never be confused with someone like Scott Stevens.
What to expect: Malik is on a one-year deal that might determine his future in the NHL. There was limited interest this offseason, but if Malik can find a niche on the Bolts' back end he could be re-signed following the season to a short-term contract or get interest elsewhere.

In The Minors
Joe Barnes
— Sent to the Rangers in the deal that brought Matt Cullen back to Raleigh, Barnes is back in North Carolina — with the ECHL's Charlotte Checkers. Barnes played one game with the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford before being assigned to Charlotte. Barnes has a goal, four assists and 28 penalty minutes in eight games with the Checkers.
What to expect: Barnes looked like a decent prospect when he was sent packing, but has not panned out with the Rangers organization. Now that he's in the ECHL, it seems unlikely he'll make it to the big show.

Evgeny Grachev — Grachev was never Carolina property, but the Rangers chose him with the third-round pick they got in the Cullen deal. The Russian came to North America after going 75th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft and is playing in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion. In 19 games, he has 12 goals and nine assists early in the season
What to expect: Grachev was a first-round talent that slipped because of the transfer agreement issues between the NHL and Russia. The fact that he came right to North America is a good sign for the Rangers.

Andrew Hutchinson — The final piece in the Cullen deal, Hutchinson was arguably the AHL's best defenseman last year for the Hartford Wolfpack. His 18 goals and 46 assists in 2007-08 prompted the Lightning to sign him to a one-way deal this offseason, but Hutchinson disappointed in camp, did not make the Lightning's roster and was assigned to Norfolk in the AHL. Through 16 games with the Lightning's top affiliate, Hutchinson has a goal and eight assists.
What to expect: Hutchinson had his chance in camp and didn't make the most of it, then the Lightning signed Malik rather than call Hutchinson up early in the season. At 28, Hutchinson's shot at the NHL may have passed.

Scott Kishel — Who? This is another guy who was never Hurricanes property. So who is he? He was the seventh-round pick sent to Montreal at the 2007 Entry Draft for Michael Leighton. The only other thing I can tell you is the 19-year-old defenseman is pointless in six games with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
What to expect: Expect that Leighton will be more valuable to the Canes than Kishel will be to the Habs.

Danny Richmond — With Anton Babchuk back in the NHL, the deal that brought him to Carolina looks a little better. Richmond — who played 39 games for the Blackhawks over three seasons — has been unable to make it to the NHL full time and was traded by Chicago to Pittsburgh. He now plays with the Pens' AHL affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and has three assists and 38 PIMs in 15 games with the Baby Pens.
What to expect: Richmond tried to earn his keep in the NHL as a fighter, but isn't big enough (6 feet, 194 pounds) and hasn't been able to make it on his skill. With the Penguins pretty deep on defense, Richmond likely won't be back in the NHL any time soon, if ever.

Did I miss someone? Leave comments with more ex-Canes playing in North America — or abroad.

Trivia: For 10 CC points. The Canes have had one player earn three-star honors this season on Who is it?