Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 12/04/09 at 09:59 PM ET
On Thursday, The Hurricanes acquired 2006 first rounder Jiří Tlustý from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the rights to Philippe Paradis, who was selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Tlustý, who got famous for “accidentally” posting nude pictures of himself on the internet a couple of seasons ago, has spent the last three seasons going up and down between the Marlies and the big club in Toronto. The 6’ left winger has played in 74 career NHL games and has registered 20 (10/10) points. He’s obviously much further along developmentally than Paradis, who is still toiling away in the QMJHL.
Jim Rutherford has said that he thinks Tlustý could play in the top six next season. I don’t see this as a reality, but one thing that might help is that there’s some contracts expiring in July. I think some of the older veterans will end up elsewhere .
Rutherford used a bunch of GM-speak to say that Tlustý fits Carolina’s immediate needs much better than Paradis. He said that the Czech would be in contention for a call-up from Albany this season, but that the big club won’t be counting on him until next season.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled this summer when the Canes selected the Quebeccer in the opening round. Nobody expected Paradis to go in the first round, and they made that selection with Carter Ashton and Landon Ferraro still on the board. It was a head scratcher that becomes even more of one now.
I like the acquisition. Tlustý is an offensive-minded skilled player, whereas Paradis doesn’t (yet) have the skills to put up the points that Carolina will need. And they’ll need the production sooner than later anyway. I’ve seen Tlustý play a couple of times, and he’s played well in his visits to the RBC Center. Probably a few times this season and then regularly next season, we’ll see more of him. Assuming, of course, that Carolina re-signs him. He’s scheduled to become a RFA in the summer of 2010.
Ray Whitney and Scott Walker are both going to become UFAs on July 1. They’re both in their mid-thirties. I can imagine Whitney coming back for one more season, but I’m not so sure about Walker. The Hurricanes desperately need to move in a different, younger direction, and trimming some of that veteran salary will help the books as well. Matt Cullen is also in the last year of his contract, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hurricanes either deal him at the trading deadline or allow him to test the free agent waters. It’s not that we don’t love Cully. It’s that he’s older and more expensive than what the Canes will need. They have painfully demonstrated that they’re too old to be competitive on most nights.
The River Rats are in action tonight, but Jiří Tlustý is not.
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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.