Generally, I think Jim Rutherford has done a good job as GM during his years in Carolina but I know a good number of fans who have been unhappy with him in recent seasons. Most of the complaints are related to him not supplying this team with enough talent, especially through trading. I will touch on how he’s handled drafting and free agent signings in later posts, but right now we’re going to see how effective Rutherford’s trades have been since the lockout. It will be interesting to see which recent trades he “won” and “lost” but more importantly, it will be great to know just how much his trades have benefited the Hurricanes. I am mainly going to be looking at trades of significant impact here because going through every single one of them would be heavily time consuming.
We’ll start with the first post-lockout season and work our way up:
Traded Jeff O’Neill to Toronto for a 2006 4th round pick (Reto Berra)
O’Neill would have 39 goals in two seasons there, but his production tailed off once he was paired with weaker linemates (i.e. being taken off Mats Sundin’s line) and he retired after the 2006-07 season. Rutherford had to sell low on O’Neill because he was coming off a relatively bad season (34 points in 67 games) and he did not get much of a return for him as a result. However, O’Neil could never match his production in Carolina after he left, so this wasn’t a bad trade at all then. Plus, the fourth rounder was later used in this next trade…
Traded Danny Richmond and the 2006 4th rounder from the O’Neill trade (Reto Berra) to Chicago for Anton Babchuk and a 2007 4th round pick (Cade Fairchild)
Despite being a high 2nd round pick, Richmond has never been able to crack a full-time spot on an NHL roster and neither has Berra so it looks like Rutherford was able to get good value from this trade. Then you have to consider that it took Babchuk two seasons to finally break the Hurricanes roster and while he had a great 2008-09 season as an offensive defenseman, he found himself in the KHL the next year and then was traded 17 games into the 2010-11 season. He then used that 2007 4th rounder in another deal….
Traded Jesse Boulerice, Mike Zigomanis, Magnus Kahnberg, 2006 1st rounder (Matt Corrente), 2007 4th rounder (Cade Fairchild) to St. Louis for Doug Weight and Erkki Rajamaki
Here’s where it’s a little more difficult to judge how much “value” Rutherford got the Canes with this trade. Weight was a big part in the Canes Stanley Cup championship that year (16 points in 23 games) but he was a pending free agent and re-signed with the Blues the following July. Rajamaki has never played an NHL game in his career so the most Carolina got in this trade was the 46 games they got out of Weight, but he was a significant part of them winning the Cup so that’s more value than it looks like. Then you look at what Rutherford gave up just to get Weight; Boulerice has been a regular AHL-er ever since he left Carolina, Zigomanis might have a Stanley Cup ring but he’s never been more than a face-off specialist and penalty killer at the NHL level, Kahnberg has been playing in the Swedish Elisterian league for basically his whole career, Corrente and Fairchild have a good amount of potential, though and the former may have a full-time spot on the Devils soon. Fairchild is only 21 but his size and injury problems suggest that he will not do much at the NHL level. So, all Rutherford really gave up to get Weight was a bottom-six center and two potentially “good” defensemen. It may seem like he gave up a llot for a rental but considering what Rutheford “lost” in this trade, it really isn’t much. Also, it’s pretty intersting how Rutherford made that 4th round pick from the O’Neill trade go such a long way.
He was able to swap that pick and Richmond for a 4th rounder next year and Babchuk and that pick was later used to help acquire Doug Weight. He also used a few players to acquire another piece to that Stanley Cup run in this next trade:
Traded Niklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos & 2007 2nd rounder (Kevin Marshall) to Pittsburgh for Mark Recchi
Like the Weight trade, this seems like an overpayment for a rental but Recchi had 16 points in 25 points in the playoffs during the Canes Cup run, so he definitely played a significant role and gave Carolina some value. What have the three players Rutherford gave up done? Nordgren went pointless in 15 games with the Pens and has been playing in the Swiss National League A for the past few years, Kolanos has been a regular AHL-er and the only NHL action he’s seen is 21 games with the Minnesota Wild during the 2008-09 season where he put up a dazzling six points. Marshall appears to be the only player Rutherford gave up in this trade who gave his team any value whatsoever as he’s currently in the Flyers system and could be a decent stay-at-home defenseman but not much else. Again, Rutherford may have given up three players for a rental but he still got the best player in the deal by far and it helped earn his team a Stanley Cup.
Traded Josef Vasicek to Nashville for Scott Walker
Walker had a 21-goal, 51-point season in his first year as a Hurricane but his production began to tail off dramatically after that. He would eventually find himself as a fourth line staple during his final two seasons in Carolina and then was traded to Washington for a low round pick in 2009-10. Vasicek ended up being traded BACK to Carolina in early 2007 and continued to not do much (9 points in 25) games so Rutherford essentially did not lose much in this trade and gained two good seasons from Walker as a result.
Traded Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky to Los Angeles for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger
Here’s where things get dicey. Johnson was a former first round pick and has been a top-four defender on the Kings blue line for quite awhile now. His defensive abilities are very overrated but how has his production been compared to Gleason? If we go back box-car stats, then it looks like the Kings got the better end of the deal. However, LA recently signed Johnson to a ridiculous 7-year $30.5 mil contract, which is going to make Johnson’s value compared to his contract look a lot worse than what it used to be. Gleason has been Carolina’s main shutdown defender for the past few season and makes $2.75 mil per year. He does not light up the score sheet at all but I would take Gleason’s contract over Johnson’s right now if I’m Carolina. Johnson has also gotten the benefit of protection the last two seasons in LA with the emergence of Drew Doughty and the additions of Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi. The only “protection” Gleason’s received was in his first two years in Carolina when Glen Wesley was still a part of the team. Although, Johnson’s point-production likely puts his value higher than Gleason’s when you look at their old contracts.
The other two parts to this trade do not mean much at all. Tverdovsky played in 26 games with the Kings before being sent to Manchester for the rest of the season and then leaving the NHL all together next year. Belanger was traded for Vasicek, so this trade was essentially Johnson for Gleason. Had Rutherford been able to do something with Belanger instead of just trading him for Vasicek, then he may have won this trade, but LA has the slight edge now. Still think Johnson is extremely overrated, though.
Traded Kevyn Adams to Phoenix for Dennis Seidenberg
This looks like Rutherford robbed the Coyotes blind. Adams was coming off a 15-goal season and he did next to nothing during his 33 games in Phoenix netting only one goal and eight points. Rutherford was able to sell high on him and gained a top-four defenseman in Seidenberg for three seasons. Seidenberg took awhile to flourish but I do not think it’s a stretch to say that the Canes got a hell of a lot more out of him than Phoenix did out of Adams.
Traded 2008 5th rounder (Tomas Kubalik) to Columbus for Anson Carter
Carter only played 10 games with Carolina while Kubalik is looking like he has a chance to be a top-six forward in the NHL. Of course, Rutherford had no idea of this at the time considering 5th round picks never amount to that much in the NHL, but this wasn’t exactly good asset management on his part. Although, the pick was expandable as he got it from New York in an earlier trade involving Brad Isbister.
Traded Andrew Hutchinson, Joe Barnes and 2008 3rd rounder (Evgeny Grachev) to New York for Matt Cullen
Cullen was a fan-favorite because of his part on the Stanley Cup winning team and he spent the next three years as the Canes second line center. He continued to give the Canes good value for the $2.875 mil per year he was making but how does his value compare to what JR gave up to acquire him? Hutchinson and Barnes have been AHL-ers for the rest of their careers but Grachev is kind of a wild-card. He’s only 21 and still has yet to prove himself as a pro, but it seems that he could be a third-line center at some point in his career. He’s now in the Blues system and may have a chance to make their roster this year. Rutherford still got the most value and the best player in this deal.
Traded Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to Ottawa for Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo
Again, Rutherford got the best player in this deal; Corvo. He’s played tough minutes for Carolina the last four seasons and provided a good amount of offense from the blue-line, as well. He also netted the Canes a prospect and another pick (which was later traded) a couple years later when they traded him to Washington (and signed him again the ensuing off-season). Ottawa got a pretty raw deal here as both Commodore and Stillman left via free-agency the next year and neither were that great as Senators. Eaves didn’t exactly do much in Carolina either aside from being a decent penalty killer. Still, Rutherford won this trade by a mile.
Traded Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Tuomo Ruutu
It’s a little difficult to say who got the most value out of this deal. Ladd was a good player during his three years in Chicago but he was more of a “tough-minutes,” second/third line winger than anything else there and didn’t really take off until he was traded to Atlanta. Meanwhile, Ruutu exploded during his first full-year in Carolina with a 26-goal, 54 point season and has been a solid top-six forward for Carolina and recently found his spot as a second line center last season. Ladd was not working out in Carolina’s system, so they decided to trade for someone who could possibly fill his spot and produce more, which is exactly what Ruutu has done. I’d say Rutherford won this trade by a hair because Ruutu’s given the Canes more than what Ladd gave Chicago. Yes, I know I’ll get the “but Ladd won a Cup for the Hawks” response and I’m sure his sparkling six points in 19 games would agree.
Traded 2008 fifth round pick (Michael Zador) to Nashville for Darcy Hordichuk’s rights
I do not care if Zador ever plays an NHL game or is the weakest goalie prospect in Tampa Bay’s system right now, I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE giving up picks, cap space or anything of any value for enforcers. Oh, and Hordichuk never played a single game for Carolina as the two parties could not come to terms on a contract. So this was a fifth round pcik for essentially nothing. Terrible trade all around even if Zador isn’t a promising prospect.
Traded Erik Cole to Edmonton for Joni Pitkanen
When you consider how big of a role Pitkanen has played for the Canes these past three years and that Cole was traded back to Carolina later in the season, this trade is an all-around win for the Canes. Pitkanen’s been arguably Carolina’s top defender for awhile now while Cole under-achieved in Edmonton and ended up back in Carolina as a result. Let’s take a look at what Rutherford did to get Cole back, though.
Traded Justin Williams to Los Angeles for Patrick O’Sullivan and 2009 2nd rounder (Jesse Blacker) which were traded to Edmonton for Erik Cole and a 2009 6th rounder (Matt Kennedy)
Basically, it’s Williams, O’Sullivan and Blacker for Cole and Kennedy. Cole and Williams are the main parts of this trade, so we’ll mainly look at them. Cole and Williams’ production for their respective teams has been quite similar, actually. Cole and Williams spent about half of their “first” full-season with their “new” teams injured while they both had excellent second seasons. The differnece is that LA was able to lock-up Williams for four years with a $3.85 mil cap hit while Cole got his big payoff from Montreal this summer.. LA’s gotten the most value out of this because of that. Neither O’Sullivan nor Blacker are in the Oilers system anymore.
Traded Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar & a 2010 4th rounder for Jussi Jokinen
Brookbank never played a single game for the Lightning and Melichar never recorded a goal while Jokinen’s been one of Carolina’s top-goal scorers the past couple seasons. You figure it out.
Traded Philippe Paradis to Toronto for Jiri Tlusty
Tlusty’s been in and out of the Canes roster for the last couple season and has really been nothing more than a depth forward. Paradis doesn’t appear to be much more than that either and was traded to Chicago last year so the only way the Canes “lose” this trade is if he somehow becomes a somewhat productive NHL-ler. That’s a little more than what Tlusty’s been, I guess. The fact that we took Paradis in the first round does not relfect well on Rutherford’s drafting, though.
Traded Niclas Wallin and 2010 5th rounder (Cody Ferriro) for 2010 2nd rounder (Mark Alt)
Here’s where the roster purging began as the Canes were well out of the playoff picture and Rutherford attempted to get as much value as he could from expiring contracts. It’s a little surprising that Wallin was able to fetch a second rounder because he’s not exactly a good top-four defenseman and was haivng a very poor season, so Rutherford did a good job here. How he used that pick is another story….
Traded Matt Cullen to Senators for Alex Picard and 2010 2nd rounder (Martin Marincin)
Rutherford was able to turn that 2nd round pick into Riley Nash on Draft Day, so this trade isn’t as bad as it looks. Cullen was one of the Canes better players at the time and I’m not sure if Nash will turn into an NHL-er, so I’m iffy on this trade. You can’t expect a lot for expriing contracts but Picard did absolutely nothing in Carolina and Cullen was one of Ottawa’s best players in their playoff series against Pittsburgh. Regular season production was severely underwhelming. I feel that Rutherford could have done better overall but I’m not sure what else you can expect for a rental.
Traded Joe Corvo to Washington for Oskar Osala, Brian Pothier and a 2011 2nd rounder (Tyler Wotherspoon)
That 2nd round pick was traded to the Rangers for Bobby Sanguinetti. Corvo did little for the Caps and re-signed with Carolina next year so Rutherford did not lose much here but the return he got for Corvo’s a little questionable. Pothier left the NHL after 20 games with Carolina, Osala’s future is still up in the air and so is Sanguinietti’s. Both are 23 and still playing in the AHL so that’s not a good sign but I have a little hope left. Still, the only way this trade is bad for Carolina is if Wotherspoon turns into a stud, which doesn’t seem terribly likely.
Traded Andrew Alberts to Vancouver for a 2010 3rd rounder (Austin Levi)
I know Alberts has played 56 games in 2 years on a team with a relatively deep blue line but the guy is NOT a good defenseman. He’s seen some absurdly weak competition as a Canuck and is really only on the team to supply depth. Getting a third round pick for him was surprising and Levi’s been developing well in Plymouth as a physical defensive defenseman and he added some offense to his game last year. If he becomes an NHL-er then the Canes win this trade.
Traded Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed to Colorado for Cedric McNicoll and 2010 6th rounder (Tyler Stahl)
Yelle had one point in 11 games with the Avs and retired while Reed is playing in the Central Hockey League, so the Canes didn’t really lose anything here. They didn’t gain that much either, though because McNicoll’s development has been coming along very slowly (playing in the ECHL at 22 is never a good thing) and Stahl’s future doesn’t seem to be that promising.
Traded 2010 5th rounder (Louis Dominigue) to Phoenix for Jared Staal
Here’s where Rutherford began to trade some of our draft picks for more polished prospects, which is probably a good call as his drafting skills in the past weren’t exactly spectacular. Here he acquired the youngest Staal sibling who is likely going to be in Charlotte to start next season. There isn’t much value to gain or lose here as Dominique was never going to get past Ward on the depth chart in Carolina.
Traded 2010 6th rounder (Jesper Fasth) and 2011 2nd rounder (Tyler Wotherspoon) to New York Bobby Sanguinetti
See the earlier comment I made about Sanguinetti being 23 and still in the AHL. Although, there’s a chance that he might be the only guy here who has an NHL future even if it’s not too bright. Wotherspoon seems like he could be a top-four defenseman at some point in his career, so that’s the only thing that worries me about this trade at this point. That and giving up two picks for Sanguinetti seems kind of puzzling.
Traded 2010 2nd rounder (Martin Marincin) to Edmonton for Riley Nash
Nash seems like he could be a solid two-way forward at some time in the near future but Marincin’s ceiling seems a lot higher than that so there’s a good chance Edmonton gets the better end of this deal. I’ll wait and see how Nash performs this year before I make a final comment, though.
Traded 2010 7th rounder (Ricard Blindstrad) to Philadelphia for Jonathan Matsumoto
All Matsumoto’s been for the Canes is a beast in the AHL who can be called up for a few games and not much else. Blindstrad is only 19 but most scouts say that his ceiling isn’t that high so not much was lost here. Carolina at least is making an effort to strengthen their organizational depth.
Traded Tom Kostopoulos and Anton Babchuk to Calgary for Ian White and Brett Sutter
I can understand why Rutherford made this trade because they needed a defenseman who could play tough minutes and had enough offensive minded blue-liners on the roster already. White could be a guy who played in all situations and do a solid job at it, but it didn’t quite work out like that as he was very inconsistent and was later traded to San Jose. Babchuk found his 2008-09 form and flourished as an offensive-defenseman in Calgary (and played with heavily sheltered ice-tme) and Kostopolous has been a decent bottom-six player, so Calgary won this trade big time. If White played how he did in San Jose then it would have been a much different story.
Traded Matt Kennedy and Stephane Chaput to Anaheim for Ryan Carter
Kennedy’s ceiling is pretty low and Chaput has been bouncing around AHL clubs for the past few years while Carter managed to produce for Carolina during his brief tenure here.
Traded Ian White to San Jose for Derek Joslin and 2012 2nd rounder
Let’s just hope that Rutherford makes better use of that pick than he has in recent years..because White was a much better player in San Jose, especially during the playoffs. Joslin doesn’t appear to be more than a 3rd pairing defenseman but Carolina managed to retain him for another season so it’s possible that him and the draft pick will give Carolina more value than the 40 games of White that SJ got here.
Traded Ryan Carter and 2011 5th rounder (Sean Kuraly) to Florida for Cory Stillman
Stillman got the benefit of good linemates in Carolina had netted 16 points in 21 games a result while Carter was mainly just a penalty killer in Florida. They were able to retain him for another season while Carolina let Stillman walk, but I’m not sure that this was a big gain or loss for either team unless Carter sees a huge burst in production next year.
Traded Sergei Samsonov to Florida for Bryan Allen
Samsonov was pretty effective in Florida but this was a case of Rutherford dealing an expiring contract for someone who might be able to produce in the next year or two. If Allen is able to play tough minutes and do it well then Carolina wins this trade.
Traded Joe Corvo to Boston for 2012 4th rounder
Cost-cutting move and it sort of enabled them to sign Tomas Kaberle but you would think that Rutherford could get better value from Corvo considering the kind of year he just had.
Rutherford’s made some very good trades in recent years and most of them were involving player-for-player swaps or where he gave up some low-end prospects to acquire a player who was able to produce right off the bat. He also has given up a bit for rental players but he made sure that he did not lose anything of signiciant value in those deals. That’s what his strongest asset is when it comes to trades. The bad trades here are ones where he received prospects or draft picks in return, which stems from Rutherford not making good use of the pics at all. This is why am going to assess his draft history in the next couple days, but I do not have many complaints with him at all when it comes to getting value in trades.