Once predicted by some to be big sellers at the trade deadline, the Carolina Hurricanes remained quiet throughout the day without any movement.
Is Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford satisfied with how Monday played out?
“I’m more than ok with it,” he said. “We’ve got some work to do here, and we certainly have to add another player or two for our team to … be a top-tier team going forward next year. With that being said, we have taken some strides forward as a team in many areas.”
Though defenseman Bryan Allen
, 31, and Jaroslav Spacek
, 38, were the two most often-mentioned names to be moved, the Canes held onto both players.
“The defensemen were the ones that got the most action,” Rutherford said. “Spacek was the guy teams called about, for the most part. But, we never got to the point of getting an offer.”
As for Allen, Rutherford said it made more sense to hold onto him and retain negotiation rights, rather than trade him and have to compete with 29 other teams to sign him come July 1.
“He wants to stay here. We all like him,” Rutherford said of Allen. “He brings more to the team than you see on the ice. He’s been a good player for us, but he’s a really good team guy. And we would really like to keep him here.”
In terms of hockey trades – trades that would bring key pieces to the Canes’ lineup, like a top-six forward – Rutherford said he never seriously entertained offers. The asking prices were too high, and he wasn’t going to give up a Brandon Sutter
or a Jeff Skinner
“We’ve built a structure here where we’re close to getting back to where we should be, but it’s going to be that big move that we really need to make if it comes available,” he said.
That move will likely be made in the off-season, when the Hurricanes pursue a top-tier forward, whether it’s via free agency or a trade.
“We need another top-flight forward to play with Eric Staal
,” Rutherford said. “If we can maintain what we have now and add that player, then we’re getting real close to being a real good team again.”
Rutherford said that coaches Kirk Muller and John MacLean had “a lot of input on things they’d like to see” lineup-wise. It was all a part of bringing in new ideas from outside the organization.
“When Kirk came in, one of the things I talked about was wanting to see a good work ethic on a game-to-game basis. That’s something that we’ve gotten,” Rutherford said. “[Muller] has brought in new ideas and a work ethic that players have bought into.”
Despite the team’s improvement, Rutherford points to a weak November that may have sealed the team’s playoff fate. As Muller said this morning, acquiring a player at the deadline at the cost of sacrificing young prospects just to make a late-season playoff push doesn’t make sense.
“If the draft was today, we’d improve immediately because we’d be picking in the top five,” Rutherford said. “If you pick in the top five of this year’s draft, you’re going to get a pretty damn good player.
“We’re realistic where we are now,” he said. “The game against Florida the other night was a big setback for us. We could play extremely well, which we’re obligated to do as a partner in this League and for our players to learn how to win, and still pick in the top five.”
So, ultimately Monday’s deadline came and went as if it was just another day in the arduous National Hockey League season.
“For the most part, we felt like we were going to keep most of the players we had,” Rutherford said.
And they did, which sets the table for what could be an active summer.