FORT MYERS, Fla. - David Tanabe cleared a significant hurdle Tuesday. The precocious, 19-year-old defenseman will be among the 30 players at the next phase of Carolina Hurricanes' camp, which begins Friday at the Raleigh Iceplex.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't want to play in the NHL this season," said Tanabe, the 16th overall pick in June's amateur draft. "This is a big step up for me. Everybody passes well and everybody plays intelligently. I've got to meet all the guys and get comfortable with them. This is the creme de la creme."
Tanabe had 10 goals and 12 assists in his only season at the University of Wisconsin.
Tanabe, whose skating skills and offensive instincts have excited the Canes, will be paired with veteran defenseman Glen Wesley in tonight's exhibition game with the Atlanta Thrashers in Greenville, S.C.
The Canes cut nine players Tuesday and sent them to the team's top minor-league affiliate in Cincinnati, where training camp begins Thursday. Bound for the Cyclones are right winger Craig Adams; centers Todd Simon, Greg Koehler and Fred Knipscheer; left winger Gilbert Dionne; and defensemen Nikos Tselios, Len Esau, Steve Bancroft and Eric Dandenault.
ROLE REVERSAL: The Canes had forwards act as defensemen and defensemen play as forwards during practice Tuesday.
"Some of those [forwards] haven't had to skate backward in a long time," Coach Paul Maurice said.
GOAL RUSH: Eric Fichaud, competing for the No. 2 goalie's spot, continues to be bothered by a chest bruise suffered when hit by a slap shot during Friday's practice. The Canes don't know when he'll be able to practice. Mark Fitzpatrick, the other contender, played well in Sunday's 2-1 exhibition loss to Tampa Bay.