Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 06/29/10 at 08:05 AM ET
The Hurricanes announced Monday afternoon that restricted free agent defensemen Alexandre Picard and Brett Carson have not been tendered qualifying offers, and will thus become unrestricted free agents on Thursday. Jim Rutherford said that he attempted to re-sign both players but could not reach an accord with either. He was worried that the players would take the team to arbitration and he was unwilling to take the risk of facing a binding arbitration outcome. This, and the draft day acquisition of Bobby Sanguinetti, will give the team a little bit of freedom to do something in the free agent market. More on this in a bit.
The other news out of Carolina is that these are the last two days for them to buy out the contracts of the septuagenarian Rod Brind’Amour and Sergei “Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer” Samsonov.
There is obviously still the chance that Picard and/or Carson could re-sign with the Hurricanes, but it certainly sounds like Jim Rutherford is prepared to move on without them. All indications are that there’s a roster spot on the big team for Bobby Sanguinetti and it’ll be his to lose. The top pairing of Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkänen are back, as are Jamie McBain and Jay Harrison. Anton Babchuk is expected to re-sign as a restricted free agent after playing last season in the KHL. Sanguinetti makes six. Bryan Rodney and Casey Borer are restricted free agents (on Thursday anyway) and will almost certainly re-sign. Probably both for two-years at $550k per. This will give the team some depth and shore up Charlotte’s blue line.
The only moves Carolina is expected to make in the free agent market are the re-signings of its own free agents. Particularly the defensemen to stock the stables in Charlotte. As of right now, the only defensemen signed for Charlotte are Michal Jordan (three years), Brett Bellemore (one year) and Kyle Lawson (two years). Picard and Carson aren’t counted out entirely, but Rutherford has already said that with the approximately $1.4M budgeted for those two, he can shop for one player in free agency. I can’t even hazard a guess as to who they might be looking at, but Garnet Exelby and Carlo Colaiacovo are a couple of defensemen who are scheduled to become UFAs and who fall in that price range. I am not in any way suggesting that the Hurricanes are interested in either of those players. Only that they might be had for that price if they indeed become UFAs.
There is absolutely no reason to think that the Hurricanes have any design for Marc Staal, who has come to an impasse in his negotiations with Glen Sather in New York. In a dream world, he would come to Carolina, but that’s only dreaming. In the open market, he could take $4M a season, and the Hurricanes simply cannot afford that or the RFA compensation to the Rangers.
If Brind’Amour and/or Samsonov are bought out, Jim Rutherford’s hand would be pushed to pursue a forward in the free agent market, and again I have no idea who might be targeted. I like the idea of Lee Stempniak, who will become an UFA on July 1, but that’s simply a personal thing and he probably wouldn’t fall into the Hurricanes budget. As has been broadly reported, Jim Rutherford is looking to spend at or near the salary floor. It’s unlikely, then, that the team will be making any splashes in the FA market.
Of course some of the draftees could sign and play in Charlotte, but Jeff Skinner is the only one likely to do so.
This will all be a little clearer when the buyout questions are answered today or tomorrow.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.