Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford says he may try to package some later picks to acquire an additional first-round choice, but doesn’t anticipate a flurry of movement beyond that.
Speaking on the eve of the draft’s opening round, Rutherford reiterated his comfort level with the seventh overall pick, but stated an interest in possibly using his three second rounders to get back into the first if the right player became available.
“We’ve not been overly aggressive, but we have been poking around to see if the possibility exists,” he said. “I think there are a few teams that might be interested, but only if a player they want is no longer available to them at that spot. If a deal like that happens, it will happen right before the pick.”
Rutherford said he would consider making that deal if he felt like a player presented excellent value at that particular position in the draft.
“We would have to really like somebody a lot to move up,” he said.
Although the trade market across the league concerning established roster players has been extremely active over the past week and should continue as such through the weekend, Rutherford said that the Hurricanes have not had serious discussions with other teams about joining the fray.
“Our focus is really on the draft,” he said. “If there are some depth players we like it might happen, but I don’t see that at this time”
That would include a potential deal involving exclusive negotiating rights for Ray Whitney. Any team acquiring Whitney from the Hurricanes would have the opportunity to sign him before he hits the open market on July 1. While Whitney could theoretically refuse to sign with a team that trades for him and come back to the Hurricanes, Rutherford said that making that move could hurt the team’s efforts to re-sign him.
“I’ll keep that door open as long as possible,” said Rutherford. “I don’t want to do that with him.”
Rounding out other roster areas, Rutherford repeated his stance from Wednesday’s NHL Live! appearance that he was “leaning towards” Justin Peters as next season’s backup goalie. He said that he would ideally like to sign Peters to a two-way contract but has not begun those negotiations, and that Manny Legace would be moving on either way.
Rutherford also confirmed that he would wait until after the draft to decide on potential buyouts involving Rod Brind’Amour and Sergei Samsonov. The deadline to buy out players is June 30.