Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Busy Summer in Raleigh

Jim Rutherford has been a busy man, and the Hurricanes are shaping up to be a very competitive team for the 09-10 season. I, for one, am so excited, October cannot come soon enough.

JR's first priorities were locking up Tuomo Ruutu, Erik Cole, and Chad LaRose.

Cole was re-acquired at the trade deadline from Edmonton where he had struggled. Putting him back in the 'Canes lineup worked wonders, not only for his game, but for Eric Staal's as well. Obviously, Cole is getting older, and Staalsy will have to learn to play well without him, but for this upcoming season, at least, the Eric/k's are reunited.

Chad LaRose wanted to test the free agency market. He had a terrific 08-09 season, his best of his pro career. I think he had hopes of earning more money, but in the end, there wasn't a lot of interest in paying a gritty 3rd liner the type of money he probably wanted, and JR got him locked back up. Thank God because Rosie is a fan favorite, works his tail off, and has a heart bigger than the RBC Center.

Tuomo Ruutu will return as a 'Cane as well, which is a huge sigh of relief, he is quite the asset to have in the lineup.

Up front the 'Canes still have Matt Cullen, Scotty Walker, Eric Staal, Sergei Samsanov, Ray Whitney, and Jussi Jokinen. They also have a plethora of young guns in the system, including Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman.

The largest changes for the 'Canes have been on defense. The biggest deal was the trading of Patrick Eaves to Boston to reacquire Aaron Ward. Ward was an integral part of the 06 Cup run and a fan favorite. Both he and Scott Walker say they've put the punching incident from the playoffs behind them...

Dennis Seidenberg was not re-signed, which I personally don't like, but JR has a plan. Frantisek Kaberle was bought out, also makes me sad, but really, he hasn't been the same since shoulder surgery following 06 season. No other team was going to pick him up, sadly, so the general belief is that he'll end up in KHL. I hope so, I would hate it if he wasn't playing hockey.

On defense, JR also brought in Tom Kostopolous and Andrew Albers. This will add some muscle to a team that has generally not engaged in rough stuff. Under former coach Peter Laviolette, fighting wasn't necessarily forbidden, but not encouraged. Previous season, 'Canes have been built for speed and skill. But the addition of these two changed the dynamic a little bit, shows opponents that they're serious.

The D corps is rounded out with Nic Wallin, Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, and Tim Gleason. Holy crap I love the 'Canes defense.

In net is Cam Ward, of course. He had a more consistent season in 08-09, and a terrific playoff run. All you haters that don't know why he got the Conn Smythe in 06, watch Ward in the playoffs, he's amazing. Michael Leighton will once again be the most gorgeous backup in the NHL. Hopefully he'll get some more playing time so that Cam can be rested a bit for playoffs, unlike this last season.

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