Paul Branecky, chief blogger for the Carolina Hurricanes website, had an update yesterday which delved into what the Carolina brass is thinking regarding next season's blue line.
As we mentioned previously here at Canes Country, the team currently has three defensemen under contract, Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason, and Jamie McBain. The coaching staff is very happy with McBain and it seems like the youngster has already played his way into the lineup for next year.
The next three starting spots are up for grabs.
The Canes are very interested in bringing back Anton Babchuk and Jim Rutherford said that there was interest on the player's side as well. Babchuk has had an up and down career in Carolina and is a polarizing figure within the Caniac Nation.
A couple of months ago, we published an article and a poll about possibly bringing the defenseman back here and the comment section was extremely active as fans left a variety of opinions.
If the Hurricanes can not come to terms with Babchuk, then they might re-sign Brian Pothier, the veteran who was very steady in his short stint in Carolina. It does not seem like Rutherford will sign both of these blue liners though.
The club has a couple of restricted free agents to sign, including Brett Carson, Casey Borer, and Alexandre Picard. Carson and Picard are the likely candidates to fill out the last two spots on the blue line.
Players who hit the free agent market include, Jay Harrison, Bryan Rodney, and Tim Conboy, any of whom could be re-signed. Management is still talking up Harrison. Branecky quotes Rutherford with the following.
"We’ll see when Albany’s season ends, but he did a good job early in the year, battled an injury all year and I thought he played well at the end of the season," Rutherford said of Harrison, who logged 38 games with Carolina. "He’s a big guy, he’s physical and is certainly capable of getting into the top six."
The general manager tipped his hat a bit when mentioning the draft. Apparently, they are very high on defensemen Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson, and Brandon Gormley. It looks like if any of those blue liners are still available at number seven, the Canes will grab him. And if that happens, the player could very well start for the team next fall.
But several mock drafts have those defensemen already chosen by time Carolina picks at number seven.
Finally, Rutherford said that he will not be active on July 1 when the free agent period kicks off. Don't expect any huge signings. He might take a look to see who is still available in September and pick up a player who brings good value. Does this sound familiar?