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Canes Looking for Defenseman; Center Will Wait

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Now that the initial free agency frenzy has subsided, the Hurricanes have begun to enter the fray in hopes of adding depth to their defensive unit.

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Although the Canes would like to obtain at least one blue liner in any scenario, options are being explored as to what type of player that might be.

”There are two things we’re considering,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford.  “Do we get a top-four defenseman and take some pressure of Jamie McBain in his first full season at the NHL level, or do we leave McBain in the top four and go with someone in our third pairing?  A lot of that decision will depend on who is available.”

A handful of outgoing Hurricanes are still on the market, including Brett Carson, Alexandre Picard and Brian Pothier.  Rutherford acknowledged speaking with Carson and Picard, but said that no discussions have taken place with Pothier at this time.

Carson, 24, often played top-four minutes in his first extended taste of NHL action with the Canes last season, averaging 17:22 of ice time in 54 games.  Picard, 25, checked in just under that with 15:04 in just nine games following his arrival via trade from Ottawa.  Each could be capable of earning significant minutes, but it’s possible that the team may opt for a more veteran presence on the free agent market if they choose to replace McBain on the top two pairings.

If not, either of those players would be an excellent contributor on the third pairing as they continue to develop.  The Hurricanes feel they can take the time they need to make that decision based on what happens with free agents across the league.

”There’s not the urgency that there has been before with the trade for Bobby Sanguinetti, because he’s capable of playing one of those spots,” said Rutherford.

Speaking to another area of potential need, Rutherford said that he would wait until the exhibition schedule begins to see if he needs to add another center to the current roster.  At that time, the team should have a good enough feel as to one of their incoming young players – namely Zac Dalpe, Jon Matsumoto, Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash if he chooses to forego his senior season at Cornell – can handle that role.

“We don’t know the answer to that yet,” said Rutherford.  “We’d like to keep spots open to give opportunities to the young players we have.  We could wait until camp, and if we need something there then we could address it at that time.”

Rutherford went on to say that he’d leave the door open for more than one of those players to make the team at center, which could move the expected fourth line pivot, Patrick Dwyer, to wing.

”I feel that some of these guys are going to be capable,” said Rutherford.

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