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Jordan Staal traded to Hurricanes

June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time, but Jim Rutherford finally pulled the trigger on Draft Day.  The ‘Canes picked up Eric Staal’s younger brother, Jordan, from the Penguins in exchange for defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin, the 8th overall pick in the 2012 draft (Derrick Pouliot) and Brandon Sutter.

Brandon Sutter is Pittsburgh-bound after being dealt for Jordan Staal.
PHOTO CREDITS: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

First off, I’d like to wish Brandon the very best.  He was considered part of the young core that would be built around for the future.  He has really come a long way, and has quickly made his name known as one of the better defensive forwards in the league.  Of course, with a name like Sutter, it comes to no one’s surprise that he has found success early on in his career.  He was a leader on and off the ice, being given one of the “A”s last season.  His work around the community was well documented as well.  He will surely be missed by both the fans and the organization.

But onto the trade.  When I first looked at it, I thought that it was a huge overpayment on Carolina GM Jim Rutherford’s part.  I probably would’ve lived with Brandon Sutter + Dumoulin or Sutter + the 8th pick.  But all three?  Now that I think about it, I think the 8th overall pick isn’t too bad.  This is one of the weaker drafts in recent memory, so it doesn’t really hurt to not have a pick in the first round this year.  However, it definitely would’ve been nice to draft Filip Forsberg or one of the plethora of solid defensemen still available.

Brian Dumoulin was a solid prospect for the Hurricanes organization, especially when you consider how weak they are in the farm system when it comes to defensemen.  Aside from Ryan Murphy, there really isn’t a whole lot.  However, with the emergence of Justin Faulk last season, I guess that Rutherford thought that Dumoulin was expendable.

Finally, the biggest piece of the puzzle.  Jordan Staal himself.  Everyone knew that he would be on his way out of Pittsburgh sooner or later.  It’s hard to really showcase your true potential and talents when you’re stuck behind the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the depth chart.  To be putting up the kind of numbers that he has in his career thus far is pretty remarkable, considering he plays with third-line wingers on most nights.  Like Sutter, he is considered one of the best two-way forwards in the league.  This was made evident when he was a finalist for the Selke in 2010.

Jordan Staal is now reunited with his brother, Eric, in Carolina.
PHOTO CREDITS: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Of course, his offensive game is just as great.  He definitely has more of an upside in the offensive category when compared to Brandon Sutter.  After all, he’s “only” scored 20 or more goals in 4 of his first 6 seasons in the NHL.  He will surely add some much needed offense for the ‘Canes.  Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about the playoff experience he brings to the table.

Now, the question is whether he will be slotted on the first line (with Eric moving to the wing) or the second line.  Only time will tell what coach Kirk Muller has up his sleeves.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty fair trade once you break it down.  Only time will tell if any time really “won” the trade.  But for now, we will have to wait and see, especially if Rutherford has more moves on the way.  Goodbye Brandon Sutter, and welcome to Carolina, Jordan Staal.

Jiri Tlusty re-signs with ‘Canes, 2-year deal

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Jiri Tlusty has signed a new two-year extension with the ‘Canes.  He will earn $1.5 million next season and $1.7 million the following year, good for a cap hit of $1.6 million.

The move comes after a breakout year for Tlusty, in which he established career highs in goals (17), assists (19), points (36), and games played (79).  After not living to expectations, he was traded by Toronto in exchange for Phillip Paradis, and the patience finally paid off.  He found most of his success on Eric Staal’s line, which included a nine-game point streak during February.

Jiri Tlusty's breakout year earned him a two-year extension.
PHOTO CREDITS: Al Bello/Getty Images

ANALYSIS: Great bang for the buck.  It may have taken a while, but Tlusty’s game is finally coming along.  Whether he will be a mainstay on the third line is yet to be seen, but I do think that the sky’s the limit with Tlusty.  A breakout year is just what he needed to boost his confidence, and should Jim Rutherford go out and find some more firepower, then he should be able to further his game to the next level.

Paul Maurice Fired as Head Coach, Kirk Muller In

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, can’t say I didn’t see this coming.  Speculation surrounding the firing of head coach Paul Maurice has filled the media waves over the past few weeks, as the ‘Canes continue to spiral downward in the standings.  Maurice’s second run as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes has come to an end, with former Habs assistant coach Kirk Muller named as his replacement.  Muller had been coaching the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League over the past two months prior to the hiring.

Paul Maurice has been relieved of his second round of duties as the Hurricanes' head coach.

ANALYSIS: Absolutely brilliant is one way to put it.  As much as I respect Maurice for all the good things he’s done, which I will focus later, it was time.  As the saying goes, when things goes bad, it’s much easier to fire one person than the entire team.  A brief glimpse of hope after back-to-back wins against the Leafs and Flyers faded away fast, and yesterday’s loss ultimately sealed Paul Maurice’s fate.

One problem was that Maurice’s system just didn’t work.  The offense has been extremely inconsistent, and Jeff Skinner has really been the team’s only threat thus far this season.  Oh, and don’t forget about the powerplay.  If you’re one of the teams that consistently draws penalties, you should be capitalizing on them… right?  Don’t tell the Hurricanes’ 12.2% PP efficiency that.  Dump and chase was a favourite tactic of Maurice’s, and 9 times out of 10 it just resulted in the defending team bringing the puck out.

So while the offense has been average at best, the defense has been downright atrocious.  It is no wonder that this team has allowed the most goals so far this season, and while Cam Ward hasn’t exactly been stellar of late, it’s really hard for any goaltender to perform at his best when he is forced to fend for himself game in and game out.

Which brings me to my next point: accountability.  As a coach, you have to hold your players responsible when they are not performing at a level that they should be.  Exhibit A: Tomas Kaberle.  A dismal 5 points, all assists, and a -10 to boot.  It took Maurice 24 games to finally address Kaberle’s poor play, with a good ol’ benching.  Okay, great.  Now what?  I guess we’ll never find out, but chances are that Maurice would’ve played the line juggling game that he so enjoys playing.

But enough of Maurice.  Let’s talk about the newest man in town, Kirk Muller.  Praise poured in from all around the league upon news of his hiring.  Here’s a couple quotes from Montreal Canadiens players, taken from this article:

“He’s a very personable guy. He knows the game. He’s knowledgeable about the game and he relates well with the players.” – Brian Gionta

“I wasn’t expecting that to happen so quickly, but I’m happy for him. He’s a really good guy. He’s got a lot of experience dealing with hockey players. He had a pretty good hand in things here. … I think Kirky is exactly what they needed. He’s an optimistic guy. He demands a lot from players, but he’s an approachable guy so I think he’s going to fit in there well.” – Carey Price

Kirk Muller has been introduced as the new Head Coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now that’s what I like to hear.  A player’s coach, yet one who “demands a lot,” as Price himself said.  Sorry Paul Maurice, but line juggling can only do so much.  Not to mention letting players such as Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe rot on the 4th line.

More importantly, Muller will bring to the team a brand-new spanking system.  He’s been known to bring a defense-first, trap-style system, but also will not shy from offense.  After all, you can’t win games without scoring goals.

It will definitely be interesting to see the results come April, and only time will tell if the ‘Canes can climb out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference and fight their way back into playoff contention.

Best of luck to Paul Maurice, though.  I will never forget the 2009 Cup run that saw the 6th seeded Hurricanes take out #3 New Jersey and #1 Boston in two fantastic seven-game series.  Those playoffs will hold a spot in my heart as a ‘Canes fan forever.  But the books have closed on the Paul Maurice era.  Out with the old, in with the new.  Welcome aboard, Captain Kirk.

Hurricanes Re-Sign Brandon Sutter For 3 More Years

July 14, 2011 1 comment

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed restricted free agent Brandon Sutter to a 3-year deal worth $6.2 million.  He will earn $1.5 million in ’11-’12, $2 million in ’12-’13, and $2.7 million in ’13-’14.

With Brandon Sutter locked up, the 'Canes are now over the cap floor.

ANALYSIS: Perhaps my favourite move of the off-season so though.  When GM Jim Rutherford calls Brandon Sutter one of the cornerstones of the franchise, he’s not kidding.  His offensive totals may have dipped last year, but you have to consider the defensive responsibilities that he took on last season.  Not only was he centering a third line which was a checking line, but he was also doing penalty killing.  Game in and game out, he matched up against teams’ top lines and did a fine job of defending against them.  However, he has also shown that he has offensive potential, and can put the puck in the back of the net when the opportunity arises.  He is truly a smart hockey player, and the ‘Canes got fantastic value out of this deal.

Joslin Re-Signs With ‘Canes

July 9, 2011 1 comment

Defenseman Derek Joslin has signed a new two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, worth $1.4 million.  He will be paid $650, 000 in the next season, and $750, 000 in the following season.

The 'Canes locked up one of their restricted free agents, signing Derek Joslin for two years.

ANALYSIS: Didn’t know too much about Joslin when he was first traded to Carolina, but he really grew on me in his short time with the ‘Canes.  In 17 games with Carolina, he was +7 and added a goal and four assists.  He is still learning, and I think a full season will really allow him to blossom.  He was never one to be afraid to unleash a shot from the blue line, and was very consistent defensively.  I’m very excited to see him develop, because I think he has still yet to reach his ceiling.

‘Canes Add Stewart, Sign Kaberle, Trade Corvo

July 5, 2011 1 comment

I know that the Anthony Stewart signing has been a few days now, my bad.  He signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the ‘Canes.  He will be paid $800, 000 in the upcoming season, and $1 million the next.

The 'Canes continued to add some depth to their forward lines with the signing of Anthony Stewart.

ANALYSIS: Great signing.  He had a breakout season last year with the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers, posting 39 points in 80 games.  He didn’t so well in his previous seasons, but this is another one of those low-risk, high-reward moves.  I can see him somewhere in the second or third line, depending on what other moves GM Jim Rutherford makes.  Very excited to see him continue to improve.

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The ‘Canes made a major splash on the free agency market, signing defenseman Tomas Kaberle to a 3-year, $12.75 million contract.

Tomas Kaberle, whose brother Frantisek was once a member of the Hurricanes, signed a 3-year deal with Carolina.

ANALYSIS: Well, this move certainly came out of left field.  Rutherford usually does not make deals involving big-name players, until now.  $4.25 a season is actually quite the bargain, if you consider what other defensemen have been getting so far this off-season.  Yes, he never fit in well with Boston, but you need to take several factors into account.  He was under heavy pressure to perform, especially considering what Boston gave up for him.  As well, Boston and Toronto play two different styles of hockey.

Coming over to Carolina, he will certainly be able to open up his offensive game a little more, and aid what was a struggling powerplay last season.  As well, he can get away from the pressure of playing in a big-name hockey market, and have less of a load on him.  I think he will do just fine.

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And finally, the ‘Canes have traded defenseman Joe Corvo to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a 4th round pick in 2012.

Joe Corvo is headed back to the Northeast Division after being traded to the Boston Bruins.

ANALYSIS: Well, had to know someone was moving with all these moves.  Corvo actually requested the trade, reasons not known publicly.  He is an excellent offensive defenseman, but his defense is so-so.  He has a cannon of a shot, which should help Boston on their powerplay.   A little disappointed with the return, but oh well.  All the best to Joe.

‘Canes Sign Three Free Agents, Re-Sign Tlusty, Cole Departs

July 1, 2011 1 comment

First off, I’d like to thank Erik Cole for his services as a Carolina Hurricane.  It’s sad to see him go, but we as ‘Canes fans will simply have to move on without him.  He was signed by the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-year, $18 million (4.5 mil. cap hit) contract.

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Onto today’s signings by Carolina:

First up, Jiri Tlusty was re-signed to a one-year contract worth $525, 000.

ANALYSIS: Good signing, since it’s low-risk.  Tlusty has never really shown the NHL world why he was picked 13th overall by Toronto in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but it’s clear Jim Rutherford is not giving up on him just yet.  He did show brief glimpses of promise last season, including consecutive goals in back-to-back games before he went down with an injury.  Have to believe that it’s it for Jiri if he can’t find his form this season.

Will this finally be the year Jiri Tlusty breaks out?

Stats – 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 57 regular season games with Carolina (NHL)

2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 5 regular season games with Charlotte (AHL)

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The ‘Canes also signed goaltender Brian Boucher to a two-year, $1.9 million contract.

ANALYSIS: Excellent signing.  A veteran backup goaltender is just what we needed, and Brian Boucher is just that.  He was a solid backup in his two seasons spent with the Flyers, and is reliable enough that coach Paul Maurice can turn to him when Ward needs the odd break every now and then.

The 'Canes got a competent goaltender to back up Cam Ward in Brian Boucher. Credits: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Stats – 18-10-4, 2.42 GAA, .916 SV%, 0 shutouts in 34  regular season games with Philadelphia (NHL)

4-4-0, 3.13 GAA, .904 SV%, 0 shutouts in 9 playoff games with Philadelphia (NHL)

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Next up, Carolina signed Tim Brent to a two-year, $1.5 million contract.  He will be paid $700, 000 in the upcoming season and $800, 000 in the following season.

Another ex-Maple Leaf joins Carolina, as Tim Brent is now a Hurricane. Credits: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

ANALYSIS: Probably my favourite signing today.  Tim Brent was a solid penalty killer, and amassed 20 points as a 4th liner while playing for Toronto.  Not too bad if you ask me.  No doubt he will be placed in a similar role, and his addition gives our bottom 6 some scoring depth and the team in general a solid defensive player.

Stats – 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in 79 regular season games with Toronto (NHL)

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And finally, the ‘Canes signed Alexei Ponikarovsky to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

What role will Alexei Ponikarovsky play as a 'Cane?

ANALYSIS: This is a really confusing signing for me.  He had an awful season with the Kings last year, and was hampered by injuries.  If he can play like he did when he was with Toronto, then I’m fine with this signing.  Only time will tell.  He should be placed somewhere in the third line.

Stats – 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 61 regular season games with Los Angeles (NHL)

1 point (1 goal) in 4 playoff games with Los Angeles (NHL)