Even though he’s been impressed with the offensive contributions of the team as a whole thus far, whether it’s balanced scoring from the forwards or contributions from the back end, Canes GM Jim Rutherford says the team will continue to look at trading one of his extra defensemen for another body at forward.
”At this point we run the risk of another one or two injuries, and then we don’t have the depth up front to continue,” said Rutherford. “We feel that we do have some defensemen in the minors that can be called up if necessary, so with eight defensemen here we continue to look at possibilities to add another forward.”
Anton Babchuk and Josef Melichar have been healthy scratches for each of the team’s first three games, and with the team only allowing three goals at even strength through three games, it’s unclear when they’ll get into the lineup.
Add Albany defensemen Casey Borer, Brett Carson and Bryan Rodney into the mix, and it’s easy to see why the Hurricanes could afford to lose a blueliner in a trade.
Although Zach Boychuk’s recent return to full health means the Canes will essentially have another forward at their disposal as early as this weekend, Rutheford doesn’t expect that to necessarily alter his trade strategy, even if Boychuk plays well.
“Not totally,” he said. “It’s really asking a lot of a player that’s still of junior age to not have any training camp and not play any preseason games to be at 100 percent of his game. We’ll see how he does. Maybe he will show signs that he’s ready to play at this level, but that would be a huge step based on the fact that he’s missed camp.”
Rutherford also expects the Canes’ penalty killing troubles to be resolved from within rather than specifically targeting a forward who could help in that area. On the flip side of the three-even-strength-goals-allowed-in-three-games stat mentioned above, the Hurricanes have allowed six power play goals in 19 chances for a 68.4 percent success rate – good for 27th in the league.
”We’re making some mental mistakes that we need to do a better job with,” said Rutherford. “We have the guys that can kill the penalties - it’s just keeping that determination like we’re playing in a playoff game. If we played it that way we’ll be fine, it’s just at this point we haven’t done that good of a job.”
Better avoiding shorthanded situations to begin with would also help solve that problem. The Canes are tied for fifth in the league in minor penalties taken, a figure somewhat skewed by the fact that the New York Rangers are ahead of them but have played two more games due to their early start in Europe.
- The Hurricanes called off today’s optional practice following last night’s loss vs. Detroit, the team’s third game in four days. They’ll practice at home for the next two days before departing for the west coast.
- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson is expected to miss about three months with a shoulder injury, ruling out an interesting match-up Friday with the team that drafted him third overall in 2005. The teams don't play again this season.
- Former Hurricane Keith Aucoin, now in the Washington Capitals' system, was named AHL player of the week today. In three games, Aucoin scored two goals and five assists, including a goal 1:36 seconds into his first game with the Hershey Bears.