Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford was on 99.9 The Fan late yesterday afternoon with a brief update about the team. First, he said how proud he was of the players who made their respective Olympic teams. He also mentioned, (not surprisingly) that if he made the choices, he would have included Jussi Jokinen on Team Finland and Tim Gleason on Team USA.
When the subject came up about this season's last place "perfect storm", once again, he took the blame for misjudging the personnel on this team and said that win or lose, the makeup of the club would be changed by 50% next season. That is a significant change. Let's take a quick look and see who might stay and who might be gone next year.
First, here are the forwards who are already under contract again for the 2010-11 season:
- Eric Staal
- Erik Cole
- Tuomo Ruutu
- Jussi Jokinen
- Chad LaRose
- Tom Kostopoulos
- Sergei Samsonov
- Brandon Sutter
- Rod Brind`Amour
Next, the forwards who do not have a contract for next year:
- Matt Cullen
- Ray Whitney
- Scott Walker
- Stephane Yelle
Taking what Rutherford said literally, one or two of the forwards under contract next season will have to be traded, or moved from the roster in some other, more creative way. One likely candidate is Rod Brind'Amour. Who else will be gone?
Rutherford has also stated that he would like to re-sign Whitney. That means yet another forward would have to be moved.
Now, the defensemen who are already under contract for next season:
- Joni Pitkanen
- Andrew Alberts
- Tim Gleason
And the blueliners who will be free agents come July 1:
- Joe Corvo
- Niclas Wallin
- Aaron Ward
There is little doubt, that 50% of this group will be gone. Some here might want to re-up Corvo, but it's likely he could get a big payday on the open market, probably more than what the Canes would want to pay. But you never know.
Of course, Cam Ward will return next year with his new long-term contract and the Canes will probably be looking to add a cheap goalie to be his backup.
Who will the new forwards be? Certainly, Jiri Tlusty, Zach Boychuk, and Patrick Dwyer will be given every chance to make the team. Perhaps Zac Dalpe will impress at camp or one of the remaining forwards in Albany? A player or two will also most likely be added via free agency or trade.
On the defensive side, things are a bit more murky. Brett Carson will be given an opportunity, but he does not look like a big "minute muncher", even if he does make the team. Jamie McBain or Bryan Rodney are possibilities, although the coaching staff seems to have soured on Rodney. Management could even bring back Anton Babchuk.
But look for them to acquire another experienced guy either by trade or free agency. You can not have three rookies on the blueline and expect to succeed.
The coming months will be very interesting and the rumor sites will be busier than ever.