Now that the Carolina Hurricanes have traded away Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera, who will fill in for these players? What's next for the team?
Both Sekera and Tlusty played major roles for the Canes, but the hardest player to replace will be Sekera. The defenseman placed second on the club in total playing time, averaging 22:26 minutes of ice time each game. He played in all situations, (an average of 1:45 a game with the man advantage and 1:57 a game shorthanded.)
Ron Hainsey would be the logical replacement and while Hainsey is next on the depth chart in total ice time, (20:32 a game), he does not play much, if any while the Canes have the man advantage, (an average of 15 seconds a game).
Carolina has had the luxury of healthy scratching a couple of players lately and they do have six defensemen available, so there is no need for a recall at the moment.
John-Michael Liles, who has been one of the healthy scratches from time to time, does see more powerplay time when he plays, (an average of 2:00 per game), so look for him to fill in for Sekera while the team is with the man advantage.
Michael Smith and Chip Alexander both reported on Twitter the pairings from today's practice:
That is not a defense that will strike fear into any opponent, but it is what it is until the offseason.
The bigger question is, who will be paired with Justin Faulk next season? I doubt that Ron Hainsey defaults into that position unless he plays lights out the rest of the way this year.
Hainsey is under contract for the next two seasons after this one.
Keep in mind that Ryan Murphy, who has been out with an injury, could be close to returning and he will have ample opportunity on the powerplay as well.
While Jiri Tlusty played musical lines, like many of the Carolina forwards this season, he was a regular on the powerplay and averaged 2:12 a game, fifth highest on the team. Look for someone like Andrej Nestrasil to get more of a look. He has only averaged six seconds a game of playing time with the man advantage.
Tlusty also averaged 52 seconds a game shorthanded, on the best penalty kill unit in the league. Perhaps Victor Rask, (19 seconds) or Brad Malone, (31 seconds), who are next on the depth list, will see more time in that situation.
The forward lines reported at practice were:
Staal, Staal, Semin
Skinner, Nash, Lindholm
Gerbe, Rask, Nestrasil
Malone, McClement, Dwyer
No particular line is going to miss Tlusty, since the lines have been mixed and matched all season. Speaking of such, does Peters mix the lines too much?
The Hurricanes will continue to play for pride but are obviously weaker today than they were yesterday. There are rumors that McClement, Dwyer, or Gleason could be next. But what would the return be, if Tlusty, who was a top-six player for this team, was only worth a couple of minor draft picks?
We will be watching.