The Carolina Hurricanes could be itching to make a deal to help their ailing blue line.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the ‘Canes are offering forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty around the league and they’re hoping to land a puck-moving defenseman in return.
Ruutu has two more years left on his contract with a $4.75 million cap hit. Tlusty is in the final year of his deal which comes with a $1.6 million hit.
Not surprisingly, the Hurricanes have been in a tough spot since Joni Pitkanen broke his heel last season in a collision with the boards that shattered his heel. He’s been ruled out to play this season and the team hasn’t found someone to pick up his slack. Ron Hainsey was signed during training camp to give them a veteran to replace him, but they’re still struggling on the blue line.
This season, Carolina’s top players on defense have been Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk, and rookie Ryan Murphy. A solid, veteran presence there would do them a lot of good.
Finland has added to its managerial group for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, naming Columbus Blue Jackets GM general manager Jarmo Kekalainen as an assistant to GM Jari Kurri.
“Being involved in the Olympics is anyone’s dream in ice hockey.” Kekelainen told IIHF.com. “I didn’t have to think much about my answer when Erkka [Westerlund, head coach] called me.”
The Finns, who captured silver in 2006 and bronze in 2010, are once again expected to challenge for a medal and will benefit from Kekalainen’s keen eye. He’s already blazed trail as the first European GM in NHL history and has gained a reputation throughout the league as a tremendous scout and talent evaluator.
According to NHL European scouting director Goran Stubb, Kekalainen will be responsible for scouting Finns in the NHL before joining the team in Sochi.
“I have watched most of the current players since they were drafted, except the 2011 and 2012 draft years, when I only followed players coming out of Finland. Players like [Chicago prospect] Teuvo Teräväinen,” Kekalainen explained. “Of course the players have matured as players and as people, but at least I have some knowledge of their fundamental character traits,”
Loaded with talent in goal (Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, Pekka Rinne, Kari Lehtonen, Niklas Backstrom), the Finns will need to find some depth on defense as veterans Toni Lydman (concussion) and Joni Pitkanen (heel) are currently out of action and won’t be ready to play.
The Carolina Hurricanes continued to shuffle the roster deck on Tuesday, putting defenseman Joni Pitkanen on long-term injured reserve while placing fellow blueliner Matt Corrente on waivers.
Pitkanen, 30, will miss the entire 2013-14 campaign with the effects of a broken heel suffered late last season. While a blow to the team’s defensive corps, Carolina will get $4.5 million in salary cap relief by placing Pitkanen on LTIR, giving them nearly $5 million in wiggle room all told.
Corrente, 25, was surprisingly kept on the active roster yesterday while highly touted prospect Ryan Murphy was sent to AHL Charlotte. But now, as speculated on Monday, it appears that decision was simply a roster compliance transaction — Corrente is being placed on waivers for the purpose of reassignment to Charlotte, and Murphy is expected to be back with the ‘Canes soon.
Hybrid icing has been approved for the 2013-14 season, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed today on NHL Live.
The new rule, which was being applied on a tryout basis during the preseason, had drawn mixed reviews from players. Ultimately, though, enough of them liked it for the NHLPA to give it the thumbs up.
In hybrid icing, the linesman blows the play dead and calls icing immediately if the defending player is leading or tied in the race to the faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The object is to try at all costs to avoid the nasty collisions into the end boards that have led to serious injuries to a number of NHL players, including Kurtis Foster and most recently Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who will miss the entire 2013-14 season.
Now that the rule has been approved, the pressure will be on the linesman to make the correct judgment calls.
NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom doesn’t think that will be a problem though.
“I think for our guys, they’ll be able to handle it easily,” Walkom told NHL.com. “They have to think about two things: player safety and the race for the puck. There is no attainable pass anymore, so they don’t have to worry about that.
“When the puck leaves they have to focus on offside, which will be a rarity when the puck is shot from behind the red line. And [with hybrid icing] they won’t have to skate as far into the end to make their decision. Before they would have to pursue the puck to the end to make sure who touched it, but now they have to skate less distance and make a judgment quicker.”
The Carolina Hurricanes have sent Ryan Murphy — their first round pick (12th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — to AHL Charlotte, the club announced on Monday.
With the move, Carolina has cemented its roster for the opening of the 2013-14 campaign.
Murphy was thought to have a good shot of making the ‘Canes roster to start the year, especially after Joni Pitkanen was lost for the season with the after effects of a broken heel. The 20-year-old made his NHL debut last season, appearing in four games while averaging 21 minutes per, and was one of the most highly-touted prospects in the coveted defensive class of ’11.
Other blueline draftees form that year include New Jersey’s Adam Larsson, Boston’s Dougie Hamilton, Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak.
Murphy, a former OHL Kitchener, standout actually made the ‘Canes out of his first NHL training camp in 2011, but failed to appear in a game before Carolina re-assigned him to junior.
This year, the ‘Canes opted to keep eight defensemen over Murphy: Andrej Sekera, Mike Komisarek, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Matt Corrente, Jay Harrison, Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Murphy demotion may be a “roster manipulation.”