The Carolina Hurricanes have a few days between games, allowing them some time to work on things before their next game which will be against the Wild, in Minnesota on Thursday night.
The team is currently sitting all alone in second place in the Metro Division with 11 points and have earned points in seven of the nine games they have played so far this season. Up to this point, the club has accomplished all of this without the services of alternate captain, Tim Gleason, who has yet to play a game this season due to a concussion he suffered in the preseason.
The good news is that Gleason is close to coming off the injured reserve list and will return to action. The bad news is that someone will have to be moved from the roster to make room for him.
Elias Lindholm, who has also been nursing an injury, is reportedly also about ready to return.
The Hurricanes have the maximum of 23 players right now on their roster, (counting Lindholm, who was never officially placed on the IR). When Gleason is activated, that will make 24 and something has to give.
Who will the team trade, or move, to make room for the former Olympian?
The addition of Gleason would bring a total of eight defenseman for the Canes. Justin Faulk, Andrej Sekera, and Ron Hainsey are the leaders in ice time and they are not going anywhere.
The team has healthy scratched Mike Komisarek more than anyone else. The defenseman has played in just two games and is still working his way back into game shape, and back into the lineup. But he reportedly has a no-trade clause in his contract and it is doubtful the team would try to move him this early anyway.
Brett Bellemore has seen his ice time reduced in recent games, but if the team wanted to send him to Charlotte, he would have to clear waivers and it is almost certain he would be claimed, so that is also unlikely.
Jay Harrison has the lowest average ice time of anyone on the blueline, (15:11), but has three points and is (+3) compared to (-6) for Bellemore. He has been a good mentor/partner for Murphy and he is likely to keep his position.
Ryan Murphy is tied with Faulk for the scoring lead from the blueline and the team needs his skating, playmaking, and scoring, so he does not seem a likely candidate for reassignment either.
The Hurricanes might end up keeping all eight defensemen, at least for now. That leaves one of the forwards on the chopping block.
Kevin Westgarth has been scratched six of the nine games and when he does play his time is limited, (3:26 per game). Would the team move him?
Brett Sutter might be the easiest choice, though he would also have to clear waivers to make it to Charlotte. He has yet to register any points in seven games, is (-4), and averages 7:44 of ice time per game.
As mentioned earlier, Lindholm is supposedly about ready to return to the lineup, but the Canes could put him on the IR as a temporary move if he cannot go.
So what will the Hurricanes do? My guess is reassign Sutter, but we will see.
That would still give the club eight defensemen, so who will sit when Gleason returns?
The tandem of Faulk/Sekera will stay the same.
The pairings of Harrison/Murphy and Bellemore(Komisarek)/Hainsey have had good and bad moments.
My guess is that we will see Gleason matched with Hainsey, while keeping the pairing of Harrison and Murphy. Bellemore and Komisarek will be the scratches, at least at first.
Do you agree? What do you think?