Defensive Logjam

The hot topic around the Hurricanes web community is how the team currently rostering nine defensemen and how three of them (including arguably the team’s best prospect) have been scratches in the first three games of the season. Paul Maurice has shuffled the lines and defense pairings a couple times now but has yet to change the lineup. He has a good reason not to because the current defense corps has been pretty solid so far (granted, it’s only been three games) but sooner or later, Jamie McBain and Derek Joslin are going to have to get some playing time (my view is that Murphy should be sent back to junior for another year). To make matters worse, neither McBain nor Joslin can be sent to the AHL without passing through waviers and I’d have to think that there are a few teams interested in claiming them. Here’s my take on how Carolina should fix this logjam…

First, I think it’s best that the team sends Ryan Murphy back to Kitchener. He has a great career ahead of him but this team already has a lot of offensively talented players on the blue-line and Murphy has been a scratch for the first three games anyway. What is the point of having him on the big club if he isn’t going to play? Plus, his frame is kind of small for a defenseman so I think letting him develop another year is the right call for now.

That brings the total defensemen number down to eight and personally, I’d like to see Jamie McBain play in one of the next two games. This powerplay has not been very good and the fact that we have Jay Harrison on the point of our second unit is pretty bad. I know Harrison is a solid defensive player but this team is in more need of a powerplay spark right now and McBain can provide that. I don’t think Harrison will be playing in an everyday role so this could definitely happen. Also, with Justin Faulk killing penalties, Harrison’s need in the lineup isn’t that big.

Speaking of Faulk, I have heard some rumblings about him possibly sitting out the game against Boston this Wednesday. I think that’s a bad idea. Faulk’s taken a few bad penalties but he’s actually stepped into a big defensive role on this team and has played decently compared to other defensemen (Kaberle in particular). I’ve seen no need to send him to the AHL or sit him right now.

Then there’s Joslin who I’m not sure what we’ll do with. I’d like to keep him around because I think he has potential and he played pretty well during his brief tenure here, but with a roster that already has seven capable defensemen, he may find himself in the AHL or part of another team. That said, his contract is pretty cheap and keeping him on the roster isn’t that big of a detriment but I don’t like the idea of using him as a healthy scratch for a long stretch of time. If Faulk continues to impress, then Joslin may find himself expandable. I would wait and see how Faulk does after about a month or so before making a decision on what to do with Joslin, though. You never know what will happen. However, if worst comes to worst, I think he might be the odd-man out.