Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
The time has come to find out what Francis is really made of as a general manager. With less than three weeks to go until the NHL trade deadline, he holds one of the most desirable assets on the market in defenseman Andrej Sekera.
The draft picks and prospects he acquires for Sekera could help the franchise going forward, so the return is important to the future of the Hurricanes. But it’s also a chance to see how Francis fares when put to the test in the trade market.
At this point, that’s a complete unknown.
Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, only the Hurricanes’ second in regulation in the past month, could very well have been Sekera’s last home game for the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes play only four more at PNC Arena before the March 2 trade deadline, and the NHL’s buying and selling kicked off in dramatic fashion with Wednesday’s blockbuster deal between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres that saw three star players change teams in a seven-player deal, the kind of swap that tends to shake things loose around the league.
Francis has yet to make a single big move, although it’s impossible to know just how tightly his hands have been tied by owner Peter Karmanos.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Available: The Hurricanes have a few spare parts that could be attractive to teams looking to fill in around the edges both up front and along the blue line. Jiri Tlusty is about to become an unrestricted free agent and makes only $2.95 million. Tlusty has good skills and might be a good bargain fit in New York or Pittsburgh. Jay McClement is a good two-way forward with good face-off skills.
On the blue line, Andrej Sekera would be attractive to a number of teams looking to add some skill on the back end, although given the Hurricanes' lack of depth along the blue line it's believed Francis will be looking to re-sign Sekera, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Needs: This team that has more needs than we have space to describe them. In short, there is some promising depth down the middle with Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask, and youngster Lucas Wallmark developing in Sweden. The elephant in the room is what to do with veterans Eric Staal -- the captain who recently vacated his normal position at center to play wing with brother Jordan -- and Ward.
“I’ve been here a long time, it’s a place that I hold in my heart, and obviously if I was asked differently or it came to that, you cross those bridges when you come to them. As of right now, I’m a member of the Hurricanes and that’s what I’m hoping to be, but you never know what can happen as you move forward.”
-Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes. More on Staal, who is now playing left wing, from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
It appears Bill Peters’ patience is being tested by Alexander Semin.
Peters, the Carolina Hurricanes' first-year coach, on Tuesday made some pointed remarks about Semin, the $7-million-a-year winger who again will be a healthy scratch Tuesday when the Canes host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Semin, who has sat out nine of the past 13 games, has one goal and seven assists in 26 games this season. Peters has said a number of times that Semin needed to be in better physical condition and able to play at an NHL pace, and Semin has gotten in extra skating sessions after practices and morning skates....
Asked Tuesday how frustrating it has been to get so little out of Semin this season, Peters said, "Well, it's not frustrating for me. We just play the guys who dig in and work and play with speed in both directions and play hard. It's not hard."
Peters said he has had several discussions with Semin but said, "Obviously something's not right. Talk is cheap, though, right?...
"I talk about competitive people being in a competitive environment and we want to win. We are playing our best 20 players in order to win hockey players. That's the lineup. It's not hard."
What a season this has been for the Leafs. At one point, adding Eric Staal seemed like a dream scenario, maybe even for both sides. Now? If you’re Eric Staal, why on Earth would you want to bother getting involved with Toronto at this time?
-Jeff Blair of Sportsnet where you can read more on this topic.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
This is a very dangerous game the Carolina Hurricanes are playing.
They have almost no chance of making the playoffs – no realistic chance, anyway – and yet their moderate success since Jordan Staal returned from injury has created a rather large gap between the Hurricanes and the NHL’s two bottom-dwellers, who will have the best shot at one of two potential franchise players in this June’s draft.
In other words, as the All-Star Break arrives, the Canes are dangerously close to going on the kind of winning run that would doom the franchise to another five years of mediocrity.
In the NHL, if you’re not going to be good, it’s far better to be very, very bad, especially in a year when there’s a generational prospect available with the No. 1 pick in the draft, which happens every three or four years or so. Connor McDavid may not be a household name yet for casual American hockey fans, but there’s a pretty good chance he will be for the next 15 years or so.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
It’s clear Staal doesn’t want to leave the only NHL team he’s ever played for, and he controls his fate via a no-movement clause. So that’s the first thing that matters here.
Having said that, at some point over the next month or so you have to imagine Carolina general manager Ron Francis will likely sit down with Staal to discuss the future of the franchise and how the captain fits into that. Does he want to stick around for a rebuild?
Keep in mind, Staal’s family loves it in Carolina, and he’s already won a Stanley Cup. He doesn’t have to leave to go chase a championship ring. He’s got one. Don’t underestimate that factor.
But I think one of the reasons Staal couldn’t come out Monday and just totally slam the door on the subject of a trade, given his no-movement clause, is because of this: how would he react if he gets the feeling that the franchise wants to recoup assets for him in their efforts to go younger?
Again, we’re not saying Francis is even thinking about that. But I think you can’t totally discount it. The Hurricanes are 28th in the NHL standings. The first-year Hurricanes GM was charged with making this team better.
Cam Ward's name has been brought up in some of the trade talk lately and Chip Alexander tweets the latest on them...
Francis says personnel decisions may be made at upcoming management meetings. Cites need to take "emotion and frustration" out of decisions.
Asked Francis about Ward-to-Wild rumors. Didn't address specifically but says there are some teams are looking for goalies.
Francis noted Ward has a no-trade clause in contract. Also said FA market for goalies may not be strong and Canes need to be careful.
Michal Jordan is as tough as they come. Despite breaking a finger earlier in the game against the Penguins, he still returned to play. And Chris Kunitz welcomed him back by slashing him on the same hand later.
Watch below, not for the squeamish...
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the Hurricanes have activated center Jordan Staal from injured reserve. He is expected to make his 2014-15 season debut in Carolina’s game tonight against the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena.
Staal, 26, has missed Carolina’s first 35 games this season after suffering a broken right fibula in the team’s preseason game at Buffalo on Sept. 23. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native is in his third season with Carolina, and has scored 25 goals and earned 46 assists (71 points) in 130 games since joining the team via trade in June 2012. Staal (6’4”, 220 lbs.) has notched 145 goals and earned 174 assists (319 points) in 561 NHL career regular-season games with Pittsburgh and Carolina since turning professional at age 18 in 2006. The Penguins drafted Staal in the first round, second overall, in the 2006 NHL Draft.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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