Hello and welcome to what I probably can no longer call a new feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com since we’ve been doing it for almost a month now. Anyway, it’s a simple concept: I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or whatever else and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let’s get to it.
Do you have any guess whether Jim Rutherford will hold tight until the trade deadline? Are the Canes a seller if not in the playoff cut by March 5? – Doug A. (@dabrams2021)
I get the sense that the Hurricanes will not simply stand pat as the March 5 3 p.m. trade deadline approaches. That said, it takes two willing participants to make a deal. I talked to Rutherford on Monday, and he said chatter around the league has picked up after the Olympic break ended.
“It was slower over the break than I expected. I had some conversations but not as many as I expected to,” he said. “I’ve had more conversations today than I did over the break. I would suspect as we go along here, there will be more talking.”
As it stands now, the deadline is exactly a week away. The Canes are scheduled to be flying back to Raleigh from San Jose on March 5, which could impact when decisions are made.
“Usually there are more deals as you get closer to the deadline,” Rutherford said. “The group of teams that we sit with and are fighting with, we have as good a chance [to make the playoffs] as any of them. I’m going to keep an open mind to anything that comes our way.
“A couple things we were looking for during the season, we were able to accomplish. We picked up Malhotra, and that helped us, and a puck-moving defenseman. So we’ve made some moves during the season where other teams haven’t,” Rutherford continued. “I think with the way Nash and Malhotra have played, there’s not as much urgency for that extra center we were talking about. So now we have to see what’s out there.”
It was first back in November when I broached the subject of the goaltending decision and how the team would handle three goalies. Injuries and conditioning stints – the latest stint belonging to Justin Peters – have served to delay that decision. But even as the deadline nears, the Canes could simply opt to retain three goaltenders.
“It’s good that Justin is there. He’s handled his situation like an absolute true pro, and it’s really amazing to me how well he’s handled it and how well he’s played. The good thing about it now is that he’s playing,” Rutherford said. “We could be sitting here on March 6 with three goalies all capable of winning games when they’re at their best.”
Peters hasn’t started a game in the NHL since Jan. 19 and has started in just two games since Christmas. Even still, Rutherford said he wouldn’t consider exposing him to waivers, and not just because of fear of another team making a claim.
“I just think the way he’s handled his situation and with what he’s done, he’s given us a chance to stay in the playoff race when he ran off those games, and I don’t think it would be the right thing to do,” he said.
A few weeks ago I was asked if the Canes were buyers or sellers, and I said they were somewhere in between. Rutherford said essentially the same on Monday.
“Neither one. We have to do what we can to get a playoff spot. We’re a good enough team to do that and a good enough team to do well in the playoffs,” he said. “But we also have to keep in mind the number of young players we have – the key, young players – and continue to build. It just depends what comes our way.”
That being said, this road trip could be very meaningful in regards to this conversation as the deadline inches near.
“Every week is crucial now. You have a good week and you jump up in the standings. You have a bad week and you fall back. I don’t want to say that this is a make or break week because it’s so tight, but it’s important that we play well and get points,” Rutherford said. “This next week is an important week, and everybody will have a better idea where teams sit.”
How do you think the Canes will be affected going from the Olympic break right into a big road trip? Think there are advantages at all? – Liz O. (@emohrberg)
I think this is perhaps the toughest stretch the Canes will face all season, not just because of what’s at stake but because they will traverse the United States and match up against some of the league’s best teams in a tightly packed eight days coming right off an extended in-season break.
At the same time, though, I think there is a big advantage from a team chemistry standpoint. As a team in the Eastern Conference, which features 16 teams all within relatively close proximity, mileage-stretching road trips aren’t as common as you’d find with a team in the Western Conference. As taxing travel-wise as these can be, they can also kindle chemistry on and off the ice.
“It’s always nice to get back at it and get working again,” Eric Staal said. “We’re going as a group to face some good teams, and it’s a good opportunity for us to build and come away with some big games.”
“It’s a unique opportunity for us,” Jay Harrison said. “We’ll focus on what’s really important in terms of our jobs here, our season and our identity as a team.”
Prior to departing for the five-game road trip, the Canes visited Ft. Bragg for a practice and team-building day on Saturday, which served to unite the team again before the stretch run of the season.
“Ft. Bragg was a special event. We were away for a couple of weeks doing our own thing, catching up with our families and resting the body, but to be able to come back and do a team event like that at Ft. Bragg really brought the guys back together,” Cam Ward said. “We learned so much about team and effort, and there are lessons there we can use as a team going down the stretch run.”
I saw that NBC is bringing back HEROES. If ABC brings back LOST, would you have a heart attack? – Nick S. (@NickIsLegend)
It took four Tweetmail segments, but we finally have a LOST question!
Short answer: Yes, for good and bad reasons. The good: LOST is one of my very favorite television shows, and I would relish the chance to be able to spend more time with the story and characters. The bad: I’m perfectly satisfied with the original story and don’t necessarily need a continuation or ancillary bit. But I’d probably be lying if I said I wouldn’t watch a reboot or remake of LOST.
For brevity’s sake, yes, as Jack pleaded, “we have to go back.” But I’m perfectly content with letting the story that was told for six seasons stand on its own.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.