Who will be the final 23?

Another round of roster cuts has passed and it's still uncertain what the Hurricanes opening day roster will look like. The team has spent the last couple of days attempting to trim down the roster to 23 and while we are getting a better picture of what the roster will look like, it's still tough to figure things out at the moment. Between the injuries, the Welsh/Dalpe trade and Chris Terry going on waivers, the Hurricanes had only eight healthy forwards skating at practice the other day and are currently carrying nine defensemen on the roster. 

There are obviously going to be some changes before Thursday night, but they have until noon today to cut the roster down to 23 players The roster they send out for the first game will obviously be very different from what it will be in a couple months, but the Canes have a short amount of time to clean up this mess of a roster and it will be interesting to see what moves are made. Kirk Muller mentioned over the weekend that he is going to take time with the roster cuts because of how many players are injured and he seems to have held true to his word so far, as only one player was waived over the weekend and no one else was added.

Still, when you have only eight healthy skaters at practice and nine defensemen on the roster, there has to be some transactions just around the corner but what exactly can the Hurricanes do while staying below the 23 player limit?

Current Healthy Roster

Forwards

LW C RW
Jiri Tlusty Eric Staal Alex Semin
Jeff Skinner Jordan Staal Patrick Dwyer
Nathan Gerbe Riley Nash  
Drayson Bowman Brett Sutter Kevin Westgarth
     
Injured Unsigned  
LW/RW Tuomo Ruutu RW Radek Dvorak  
C/RW Elias Lindholm    

Earlier I said that there were only eight forwards at practice yesterday and while that was true, Muller has said that Semin & Skinner should be ready for opening night and Elias Lindholm will also be on the roster. Whether or not he will play is another question. He has been out all preseason and might got to Charlotte to get some experience before he is called up to the big club. Regardless, the Canes have 12 active forwards on their roster with him in the mix and only 11 of them could play on opening night.

To make matters worse, their depth is less than ideal. Unless someone plays on their off-wing, they could have Patrick Dwyer, who is more of a third/fourth line player in their top-six and might be forced to play Kevin Westgarth due to them not having anyone else.

Perhaps this is where Radek Dvorak enters the equation? He has yet to be signed, but is still practicing with the team and had a good showing in training camp. With Dalpe traded and Lindholm uncertain for opening night, the team has a need at RW and Dvorak could fill one of those holes on the third or fourth line. You're still left weak on that side of the roster, but having one of Bowman or Gerbe move over to the right side could improve that. There's also the possibility of the team making a waiver claim, but I don't think it will happen today unless there is someone better than Dvorak available. He has worked hard in camp and will probably get rewarded with a contract.

Forward Count: 12 (11 healthy & available)

Defensemen

Left Right
Andrej Sekera Justin Faulk
Ron Hainsey Ryan Murphy
Jay Harrison Mike Komisarek
  Brett Bellemore
  Matt Corrente
Injured  
Tim Gleason  

Tim Gleason is currently injured and questionable for opening night, but until he is placed on the IR, the Hurricanes have nine active defensemen on the roster. At least one of them will have to be moved by noon today and the easy solution here is to probably waive Corrente. This leaves room for the Canes to possibly add another forward and clears up the logjam they currently have on defense. However, the fact that Corrente is still in Raleigh tells me that the coaches like him and they have mentioned the possibility of him playing forward. I'm not big on that idea since this plan didn't work with Derek Joslin and I don't see Corrente being much of an improvement.

Either way, Corrente will probably be sent to Charlotte soon and that would leave the Canes with seven active defensemen with Gleason out. They might actually prefer this approach since they want to get Komisarek in the lineup and have been heavily using Ryan Murphy on the power play in training camp. With the injuries to the forwards, it's plausible that the Canes might roll seven defensemen on opening night while playing down a forward.

So who moves out of the lineup when Gleason returns? Your guess is as good as mine. Even with Corrente gone, the Canes will likely have to send one of Bellemore or Murphy to Charlotte and choosing between the two will be very difficult. They've mentioned that the team could carry eight defensemen, but I'm not sure if that's ideal with the team needing to add at least one or two more forwards. My guess is that it will depend if the front office has another move or trade planned for within the next couple of days.

Defensemen Count: 9 (7 healthy/active)

Goaltenders

Cam Ward
Anton Khudobin

This is probably the only part of the roster that is set in stone. It will be interesting to see how the starts are divided, but it's doubtful that one of these goalies are moved.

Goalie Count: 2 both healthy & active

Add everything up and the Hurricanes have 23 players on the roster but it's hard to believe that this will be the final roster when taking injuries and everything else into account. What I see happening is that the team will waive Corrente sometime today and sign Dvorak to take over his spot. That gives them 13 forwards on the roster and still allows them to carry eight defensemen for the time being. Whether or not Gleason goes on IR will depend on his status and that opens the door for another player if it happens. What the team does with Lindholm will also be interesting because his roster spot certainly isn't guaranteed.

The season hasn't started yet, but I already know it will be an interesting couple of days. Buckle up, folks.

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