Even with the Carolina Hurricanes’ draft-day splash in the forward market, the team is expected to make a strong push toward identified targets when free agency opens on Sunday.
And if the team’s aggressiveness a week ago was any indication, don’t expect July 1 to come and go silently.
Team President and General Manager Jim Rutherford outlined two pieces the Canes would like to add before the season begins: a veteran defenseman and another top-six forward.
The former, he said, is more attainable than the latter, which he is less confident will happen.
“We haven’t resigned Spacek or Allen, so [we’d like to sign] either one of them or someone to replace them,” Rutherford said, adding that the contract would be short-term. “That will probably be easier to do and quick than anything else.
“If a top-six forward presents itself and we can get in the mix for someone who wants to come here, that’s another thing we’d like to do,” he said. “It would be tough to do through free agency, but that’s not to say it can’t be.”
Head coach Kirk Muller will be with the team brass on Sunday watching everything unravel in hopes that the Canes can add the players on their wishlist.
“I think we need a top-four defenseman; maybe it’s a guy that plays with Gleason on the right side,” he said. “Up front, I think we’re short a guy up there still. If we can make our team better in that area, I think I’d be pretty happy with that.”
Adding a veteran defenseman that can play in the top four, Muller said, gives a potential seventh blueliner like Ryan Murphy the chance to develop at the speed they see fit.
“You really can’t underestimate the value of a veteran guy,” he said. “You have a guy like Murphy coming in, seeing how he does in camp and the possibility of being involved. It gives him that opportunity of maturing at the right level and using him in the right games.”
The potential problem with adding a top-six forward via free agency is the thin pool of available players, which is one reason why Rutherford pursued Jordan Staal so assertively at the draft. Additionally, the price of these forwards is likely to be driven up since there are so few of them.
Another piece Rutherford has indicated he would like to add is a gritty, fourth-line presence. However, that likely won’t happen any time soon.
“That may come even as late as training camp or the first month of the season,” Rutherford said. “I’ve talked about a couple of guys and looked into a couple of guys and wasn’t able to make a deal for them. It looks like it’s going to take awhile to do that.”
Joslin Bought Out
The Carolina Hurricanes bought out the remaining year on Derek Joslin’s contract Saturday after the defenseman cleared unconditional waivers.
Joslin, 25, signed a two-year contract with the Canes in the summer of 2011. He was slated to earn $750,000 in the coming season.
The buy-out clears roster space for the veteran free agent signing the team will pursue and competition expected in training camp. The Canes currently have five defensemen under contract for next season.
Joslin played in 44 games with the Hurricanes last season. He was a regular healthy scratch in the first half of the season, only dressing in 14 of the team’s first 41 games. After a four-game conditioning stint in Charlotte, Joslin dressed in 30 of the team’s final 37 games. However, for the large majority of those games, the natural defenseman was eating up single-digit minutes as a fourth-line winger.
In 61 career games with Carolina, Joslin recorded 9 points (3g, 6a) and was a minus-8.