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What to Watch For in the Offseason

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
We’re already counting down to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, which is roughly six months away.

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But, until then, here are five things to keep an eye on during what could be a busy offseason:

1. Stanley Cup Playoffs

Even though the Hurricanes aren’t in the mix of this postseason, this year’s playoffs have not disappointed – and it’s only the first round. From now until mid-June, you’ll see some of the best hockey of the season as 16 teams are whittled down to one victor.

And this year, you have a chance to see the playoffs in its entirety on the family of NBC networks – NBC, the NBC Sports Network and CNBC – and the NHL Network. This marks a step forward for the League’s presence on television and is great for the growth of the sport.

If you miss any of the action, the League is putting together daily video packages in the Playoffs Countdown, which can be found here.

2. World Championships

The International Ice Hockey Federation will host the 2012 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden beginning on Friday, May 4. A number of Hurricanes will be participating in the annual tournament:

Justin Faulk and Patrick Dwyer will play for the United States; Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner will play and Kirk Muller will serve as an assistant coach for Canada; all three Finns have been asked to play for their country, but participation isn’t yet certain. Keep an eye out for a press release once final rosters are determined.

Preliminaries will run from May 4 to May 15. Quarterfinal games are on May 17, with the tournament concluding with the Bronze Medal Game and Final on May 20. Finland will be looking to defend their gold medal win from 2011.

3. 2012 NHL Draft

The Hurricanes hold the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, which will take place in Pittsburgh on June 22 and 23. In the seven-round draft, the Canes will have a total of 10 picks, seven of which will be in the first 121 selections (four rounds).

Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers selected forward Sean Couturier with the eighth pick. Some other notable players selected eighth overall include Braydon Coburn (Atlanta, 2003), Jeremy Roenick (Chicago, 1988) and Grant Fuhr (Edmonton, 1981). The Hurricanes selected Jeff Skinner with the seventh overall pick in the summer of 2010.

The early general feeling is that a quality player will be available in the eighth slot, perhaps Finnish left-winger Teuvo Teravainen, Kitchener center Radek Faksa or defenseman Griffin Reinhart, son of former NHL blue-liner Paul Reinhart.

Stay tuned to in early June, as we begin to preview the team’s potential selections. We also expect to have live draft coverage from Pittsburgh.

4. Free Agency

Playoffs aside, arguably the most exciting part of the off-season begins on July 1 when free agency opens. This season, President and General Manager Jim Rutherford has stated that the Canes are looking to make a splash by pursuing a top-tier forward.

“We’re really looking for a player that’s in the prime of his career in his 20s, and so where do you get that player?” he said in his end-of-season availability. “Free agency is a possibility. There’s not going to be many of them … but if that player is available, we will have the resources to go after that player.”

Rutherford also hinted at re-structuring the fourth line but did not go into detail as to what sort of transactions that would involve.

The Canes will also have some decisions to make in terms of the unrestricted and restricted free agents on the roster from this past season. Among the UFAs are defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek. Jiri Tlusty, Jeremy Welsh and Jamie McBain are restricted free agents. Rutherford stated in his end-of-season availability that Allen “fits with our team.” He also mentioned a contract for McBain was something he’d “like to get to work on” as soon as possible.

Fans can track all of this and more on the Contract Chart, which details who is under contract with the team and for how long. This page will be updated as transactions occur, so be sure to check back often.

5. CBA Talks

Complicating the offseason is the impending collective bargaining discussion. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on Sept. 15, 2012.

Free agency will operate under a salary cap dictated by current CBA regulations. The salary cap will likely change under a new CBA, which could potentially create hurdles for teams spending to the current limits.

In terms of the threat of a work stoppage, fans shouldn’t be too uneasy. The salary cap framework, which caused the loss of the 2004-05 season, is in place. What remains between the League and Players’ Association should just be small details, and the hope is that these can be resolved in time to begin the 2012-13 season.

More Ahead

We'll have plenty more on as we move along this summer. For everything else, stay plugged in to all that's happening with our social media presences – and look out for additional platforms to be added in the near future.

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