Caniacs will soon find out the answers to their questions in a few short hours. Will Joni Pitkanen be dealt for a boatload of picks/prospects? Will another familiar face be brought back into the Hurricanes family? Will the defense be upgraded, downgraded, or stay the same?
GM Jim Rutherford has some important decisions to make.
With the team on the brink of making the playoffs, although they have struggled of late, the general manager will be tempted to make another move to help push the team over the top.
It's undeniable that making the playoffs is important to this small market franchise, from a financial perspective if nothing else. If the team is this close, why not give them a boost to help push them over the top?
It all comes down to price, as the franchise does not want to trade valuable prospects for a short term gain.
So far, Rutherford has accomplished a little of both long term and short term upgrades.
He traded an injured fourth liner and a 5th round pick for Cory Stillman last week, who has already shown that he can still be an immediate asset under the right circumstances. But the GM took away experience from the blueline when he traded Ian White to San Jose for a second round pick and Derek Joslin. (In two separate trades, but this was the net affect for now.)
Everyone assumes the crafty GM is not finished, but what's next?
Currently, the Canes are essentially in a fight with five other teams for three playoff spots. Montreal, New York, and Carolina are in the 6th, 7th, and 8th spots respectively, while Buffalo, Toronto, and Atlanta are all within striking distance.
Each team has been active in the market so far and could continue to make moves on this final day. Their moves so far?
Montreal has been very active for the past month. Here are their acquisitions:
D James Wisniewski, D Paul Mara, D Brent Sopel, F Nigel Dawes
The New York Rangers have also been active and claim to still be in the market: Their acquisitions so far:
D Bryan McCabe, F Wojtek Wolski
The Buffalo Sabres have been moving up on the Hurricanes and are probably the most dangerous team outside the top eight. They just made a move on Sunday which should help beef up their forward depth. They still might be looking for more help.
F Brad Boyes
The Toronto Maple Leafs have also been active as they have been dumping contracts, but somehow they have earned points in nine of their last ten games. The losses of Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin, and Kris Versteeg can not be looked upon as helping them to make the playoffs though, or should it? Some of their acquisitions so far:
F Aaron Voros, F Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner
The Atlanta Thrashers have been making what could be considered lateral moves, but with a 2-6-2 record in their last ten games, things have not been looking up for them.
F Ben Maxwell, F Blake Wheeler, D Brad Stuart
Which team improved themselves the most? We will ask that question again after all is said and done on Monday.
There is some buzz out there about the Canes. On Sunday, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun spoke with Rutherford and the GM said that he would prefer to add an experienced defenseman with an expiring contract.
Some of those still available that we have already mentioned in a previous article are: Jim Vandermeer from Edmonton, Radek Martinek from the Islanders, and Jan Hejda from Columbus. Chris Phillips just signed another deal to stay in Ottawa.
And what about Joni Pitkanen, who could be the most sought after player on Monday? Rutherford would not comment, but LeBrun thinks that he would prefer to keep the defensmean, but is listening to all offers and might consider something if it blows him away.
What does all this mean? Anything could happen, including a creative, multiple player trade. Rutherford has pulled off some surprises before and several teams are still looking to make changes.
As we mentioned earlier, Canes Country will have an open discussion thread, ("Deadline Day Live") active all day long as we discuss and exchange thoughts about what's happening, as it happens. See you there!