As the whole hockey world knows, yesterday was the trade deadline and the Hurricanes….well they didn’t do anything. The common thought around the league was that the Canes would be sellers this year because they are last in the Eastern Conference and have/had a few expiring contracts but they ended up re-signing two pending UFA’s and trading no one in the last month. The only pending UFA who was moved this year was Alexei Ponikarovsky for a 4th round pick and Joe Sova. Guys like Ruutu, Gleason, Allen and Spacek (i.e. the players everyone thought would be traded) are still on the team and the first two were given new four-year contracts.
Am I a little disappointed that Jim Rutherford didn’t move anyone? A little, especially after hearing talk from Bryan Allen’s agent saying that an extension “wasn’t going to happen.” As much as I like Allen, he is someone who could have a good amount of value to a contending team and could have gotten Carolina a decent return. His NTC makes him difficult to trade but if he didn’t want to re-sign then trading him makes the most sense. That said, Rutherford has until July to negotiate a new contract with Allen and I still have some hope that they can get something worked out. Allen is someone who I think will be a good fit on the team for the next couple years so keeping him around and negotiating a new contract might be the best thing.
Not trading Spacek sort of makes sense to me because I’m not sure what kind of return he will garner. Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill both fetched second round picks and Spacek isn’t exactly far away from their class. However, he has been used in a completely different role with the Hurricanes than those two. Carolina has been sheltering him and using him as a third pairing defenseman and those kinds of players generally don’t go for much. I like Spacek and he has played well but I’m not sure if he fits into the Canes future plans nor do I think that Rutherford missed out on a big return for him.
There were some other names I heard circulating around like Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose and I’m not sure how legit those were because LaRose is injured and wouldn’t fetch much and Jokinen has shown great chemistry with Jeff Skinner on the second line. Anthony Stewart was another name mentioned but if someone wanted him, they could have had him for nothing two weeks ago.
Did Rutherford miss an opportunity by not dealing any of his players? Possibly. History shows that he doesn’t like dealing for draft picks and maybe he just didn’t see any offers he liked. The Hurricanes definitely need some more pieces to rebuild with and they could have gotten it this deadline by trading one of their pending UFA’s but if the only offers they got were draft picks then I can understand why Rutherford didn’t make a move. What Carolina needs is someone who can come in and help in the next couple of seasons instead of someone that’s 4-5 years away from now. That’s what I think Rutherford’s mindset is. He did indicate that he wants to be active in free agency and acquire a first line winger, which is good news if he can do that.
One problem I had with him not trading Spacek or Allen is that we have seven healthy defensemen on the roster right now, all of whom are not waiver exempt, and when Joni Pitkanen returns we will have eight. We’re already dressing Derek Joslin as a forward and that probably won’t last for much longer so does he go back to the press box for the rest of the year? What happens to him next year? Also, another defenseman is going to need to be scratched to make room for Pitkanen and I honestly have no idea who that will be.
I don’t particularly agree with all of Rutherford’s strategies but I understand why he chose not to make any moves this deadline. There is still a few months left for him to work a deal out with Allen and if he can’t, then he can always trade his rights over the summer. Just like Ruutu, the worst thing he can do with Allen is let him walk away for nothing and I think JR’s has learned his mistakes enough times to not let that happen again. At least I hope so.