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Entries with the tag: carolina hurricanes

Canes use special teams to beat Sabres

On Friday night, the Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in the home opener at First Niagara Center.  They were poorly disciplined, but the special teams stood tall.  They got shorthanded goals from alternate captain Brandon Sutter and newcomer Tim Brent.  Defenseman Jay Harrison also scored a goal that was technically even strength, but it happened just as a penalty to Tyler Myers was elapsing.  Initially it was declared a power play goal, but after a while, the ruling was changed and it was deemed even strength.  Jeff Skinner added a power play goal late in the third. 

Carolina had several excellent short-handed scoring chances in the game.  In addition to the two shorthanded goals, Sutter hit a post, Eric Staal was stopped on a breakaway, and Ryan Miller made a couple of really good saves to keep his team in the game, even when they had a manpower advantage.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brandon+sutter, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, jay+harrison, jeff+skinner, tim+brent

The ride is over for Ryan Murphy

On Thursday, the Hurricanes decided to return defenseman Ryan Murphy to the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.  The 2011 first round draft selection survived the final round of roster cuts, and was a healthy scratch in all four Hurricanes games so far. 

Because Murphy is just 18 years old, and non-European, and did not play collegiate hockey, he isn’t eligible to play at the American League level, so Charlotte wasn’t an option.  Because he played in less than ten games (he didn’t play in any games), he can be returned to Kitchener and the meter doesn’t start running on his professional contract until next season. 

Carolina is now down to a roster of 22, which is where they usually are.  I don’t think they’re done adjusting the roster, though.  At least I hope not.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, kitchener+rangers, ryan+murphy

Canes finally get first win

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes finally got their first win of the season with a 3-2 regulation win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.  The Hurricanes got goals from Joni Pitkänen, Anthony Stewart and Jiri Tlusty, while the visitors got markers from Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. 

The Hurricanes converted one of four power play chances, while shutting down the Bruins power play.  To be fair, Boston has struggled mightily in that department, but it was still a great night for the special teams. 

Defenseman Jamie McBain made his season debut, while rookie Justin Faulk was one of three healthy scratches on the night. 

Carolina is now 1-2-1 on the young season.  They’ll start a four-game road trip on Friday in Buffalo.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: anthony+stewart, boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, jiri+tlusty., joni+pitkanen

Canes steal a point from Caps

On Saturday, the Hurricanes had a much better showing than they did on Friday.  Against the defending Southeast Division champion Capitals, they forced overtime to earn a standings point.

For the second game in as many days, the Hurricanes scored the first goal, but couldn’t put one in the “win” column.  For the second game in as many days, Jussi Jokinen took a penalty that ended up being really costly.  Apart from that, it was a very different game from the one against the Lightning. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+boucher, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, justin+faulk, tomas+kaberle, washington+capitals

New faces, but same old Canes

The Hurricanes made some personnel changes on the bench and on the ice over the summer.  There are a lot of new guys, but the result of the opening night game was pretty much the same as a lot of games from the last two seasons.  They worked hard and looked great in the first period.  They lost the edge in the second, and then they just got outworked in the third.  Penalties, poor special teams play and lack of focus all added up, and the sum was a 5-1 loss at the hands of Tampa.

Jeff Skinner scored the Canes’ only goal at 8:07 of the first and was really the best thing the Canes had.  He and defenseman Joni Pitkanen were good.  Justin Faulk was good.  Everyone else was either invisible or was noticed for the wrong reasons. 

After Martin St. Louis tied the game early in the second, the Canes still had plenty of chances to pull ahead in the middle frame.  Late in the period, when it looked like it would be a great game, the wheels fell off for Carolina.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, jeff+skinner, justin+faulk, paul+maurice, tampa+bay+lightning

Murphy to sit opening night

The Hurricanes have announced the opening night roster for tomorrow’s home tilt against the Bolts.  There’s a bit of intrigue to it.  Ryan Murphy, the highly touted 2011 first round draft pick, survived the final round of cuts and was kept on the roster.  Strangely, he’ll be a healthy scratch for opening night.  The expectation was that he would play in the first nine games, then get sent back to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL as if nothing had happened.  If he plays fewer than 10 games, his newly signed contract will roll over until next season.

My money was on forward Riley Nash to survive the final cut and make his NHL debut this week.  That’s going to have to wait.  Frankly, I’m at a loss as to why the Hurricanes would keep Murphy around just so they could scratch him.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+boucher, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, justin+faulk, opening+night, riley+nash, ryan+murphy

Riley Nash survives latest cuts, Zach Boychuk doesn’t

On Thursday, the Hurricanes trimmed their training camp roster to 24 by sending 12 players to Charlotte of the American League.  The group of twelve includes Zach Boychuk, who was projected to make the final round of cuts.  Instead it was former Oilers first round pick Riley Nash who has ended up as the thirteenth forward on the depth chart. 

Although the league allows a roster of up to 23 players, Carolina will not carry more than 22.  The final cuts will be from the blue line. 

Boychuk played in 23 games for the big team last season and in 31 the season before that.  He was expected to make the big team out of camp last fall, but Jeff Skinner exceeded everyone’s expectations and stole the roster spot from him.  Boychuk would later say that he wasn’t as prepared as he should have been.  He worked hard this summer and he arrived to training camp early, hoping to get up to speed and impress the coaches.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to impress the coaches.  From what I’ve heard and read, he didn’t look good in any of the scrimmages or pre-season games.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, justin+faulk, riley+nash, ryan+murphy, training+camp, zach+boychuk

Who will fill out Canes forward lines?

Over the summer, the Carolina Hurricanes added a lot of pieces.  By now, they’ve definitely shored up the blue line, and they even have a log jam.  Barring a trade, no matter how well a certain 2011 first round draftee plays in camp, there just isn’t any space for defensemen.  On the other side, there’s going to be plenty of competition for forward spots. 

The way I see it, there are two forward positions up for grabs and the leading contenders are Zac Dalpe, Zach Boychuk, Chris Terry, Jerome Samson and Drayson Bowman.  In that order.  I’ve been asked whether I think Dalpe will make the Canes and how big of an impact he’s going to have.  The first part of that question has a simple answer: without a doubt.  The second part is anybody’s guess.  My guess is that he’ll put up Chad LaRose-type numbers.  Somewhere in the vicinity of 13 goals and 15 assists.  If he plays on the right wing.  As third line center, he won’t get those kinds of numbers, but I think he will if he’s allowed (asked?) to play right wing. 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, zac+dalpe, zach+boychuk

Canes sign top pick Murphy

On Friday evening, the Hurricanes announced that they have come to terms with 2011 first round draft selection Ryan Murphy.  The 18-year old defenseman, who was selected with the 12th overall pick this July,  has become the second straight Kitchener Rangers player signed by the Hurricanes out of the Traverse City prospects tournament.  Like Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner before him, he has signed a standard Entry Level two-way contract, but he isn’t old enough to play in the American League.  He can be returned to Kitchener or he can play with the big team. 

The particulars of the contract are pretty standard.  Three years.  $832,500 at the NHL level or $70k at the AHL level in all three seasons.  He also gets a $277,500 signing bonus.  Again, the American Hockey League requires North American players to be at least 20 (or turning 20) years old, but the NHL allows 18-year olds to play. 

Murphy has a ton of offensive upside, and he finished last season with 79 (26/53) points in 63 regular season games with Kitchener.  He also added 11 (2/9) in seven post-season games.  Everyone who’s watched him play agrees that he’s a very exciting and very special player.  He’s piled up a ton of awards along the way.  He made the OHL first team all-rookie team in 2009-10.  He was an OHL first-team all-star in 2010-11.  He was named the best defenseman at the 2011 IIHF World U-18 Tournament.  And now he’s put himself in a position to earn a roster spot on the big team.  That’s a tremendous accomplishment for any 18-year old, but especially because he’s a defenseman.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, ryan+murphy

Hurricanes will honor Vasicek on opening night, and all season long

The Carolina Hurricanes lost a family member in the tragic plane crash last week, which wiped out the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team.  Josef Vasicek, who played 347 regular season games and 37 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Canes, was among the dead. 

When the Hurricanes were a very bad team, he was playing his best hockey, leading the team in goals (19) and points (45) in the 2003-04 season.  He always gave his best, and although he was scratched for most of the 2006 playoffs, he was there and he got his name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup.  He was never the most talented player, but he worked hard and he never complained   His attitude on and off the ice endeared him to the fans and players. 

Now, he’ll be honored by the team where he spent the bulk of his NHL career.  Before the home opener on October 7, fans will be treated to a Josef Vasicek video tribute.  There will also be a tribute to him in the players’ lounge.  In addition, the players will wear a patch in his honor all season long.  This presumably, will be similar to the patch players wore on their left shoulder in the 1999-2000 season to honor defenseman Steve Chiasson, who was killed in a car crash. That patch was simply a red 3 in a black circle.  This will likely be a red 63 in a black circle. 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, josef+vasicek

Canes sign Mathieu Roy

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes made a depth signing by inking veteran defenseman Mathieu Roy to a one-year, two-way contract.  He will most likely play in Charlotte, where he will make an AHL salary of $125k.  At the NHL level, Roy’s salary would be $600k.  He is guaranteed $150k. 

Roy (WAH) was drafted by Edmonton in the seventh round of the 2003 draft.  He has played in that organization, and also for the minor league teams of Columbus, Florida and Tampa.  Last season, he played four games with the Bolts and 45 with their American League Norfolk Admirals.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, mathieu+roy

Remembering the Czech Condor

It’s a horrible day in the neighborhood.  It’s already been a brutal summer for hockey fans.  Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, known for their roles as enforcer, all died this summer.  All had played as recently as the 2010-11 season.  Today, there was a huge tragedy when the entire KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl were lost in a Russian plane crash.  Two passengers survived the crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff.  All but one Lokomotiv player died.  The surviving player, Alexander Galimov, is in serious condition, with burns to over 80% of his body.  This is, by far, “the darkest day in the history of our sport”, said Rene Fasel, president of the IIHF.

Today was opening day in the KHL.  Only one game was on the docket, and it was in progress at the time of the crash.  The league suspended the game and will postpone games scheduled for tomorrow. 

Among the dead are several former NHL players.  Closest to home, this list includes Josef Vasicek, who would have turned 31 on Monday.  He played the majority of his career with the Hurricanes. The entire hockey-loving world is in shock, and I’d be a fool to suggest that this hits us any harder.  While we mourn the loss of 43 people, we knew and loved Josef Vasicek, so we mourn especially for him.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, josef+vasicek, khl, lokomitiv

Over heeeeeeeere!

Things have been slow around here.  Not much hockey news.  The players are slowly starting to come back to the City of Oaks, the new guys are showing their faces.  The unofficial workouts, “Camp Rosey” are underway, and everyone was shocked (literally) yesterday when the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in NoVa was felt all the way down here. 

Today, though, some longtime Canes fans got some sad news. 

David Martin, better known as “Chopper Harrison” has, according to Canes beat writer Luke DeCock, passed away at the age of 59.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chopper+harrison

Getting to know…  Anthony Stewart

There isn’t much going on this summer, but Anthony Stewart, one of the newest Canes, is keeping us entertained.  Between appearing on TSN’s “Off the Record” and his tweeting, I don’t know if he has time to do any training.  He is, however, giving us Caniacs a good look at who he is off the ice.  And in one of his recent appearances on OTR, he revealed a somewhat surprising outlook on race-based trash talking.  If you don’t follow the Southeast division, you might not know that Anthony Stewart is black. 

Yesterday, Stewart was part of a panel on OTR discussing the growing number of black players in the NHL and racial “chirping” on the ice.  Here’s the video clip of it.  The panel consisted of Stewart, Joel Ward, Wayne Simmonds, Kevin Weeks, Stewart’s dad and Weekes’ dad.  They all agreed that what goes on in the locker room is one thing but on the ice is another.  When Stewart was asked directly if “chirping” about a player’s race is off limits, he gave an answer that was a bit of a surprise:

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  Tags: anthony+stewart, carolina+hurricanes, joel+ward, kevin+weekes, racism+in+hockey, wayne+simmonds

Canes get organizational depth in net

After the Canes finished signing their own UFAs both at the NHL and AHL levels, things have gotten kind of slow around here.  Yesterday, the Charlotte Checkers announced that goaltender John Muse has signed a two-way American League contract.
There’s really not much to see here. 

Muse won two national championships (2008, 2010) with the Boston College Eagles.  He played and was the clear #1 goalie all four seasons, and set school records for games played and saves.  At BC, he played alongside Hurricanes 2009 second round draft pick, defenseman Brian Dumoulin.  After completing his fourth season this past spring, Muse signed an amateur tryout contract with the Portland Pirates (then affiliated with Buffalo).  He appeared in one game, earning a shootout win over the Albany Devils. 

It’s pretty clear that Justin Peters is being demoted to Charlotte and that Mike Murphy has already established himself as the starter there.  This leaves no room for Muse at the AHL level, so he’ll be shipped down to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, florida+everblades, john+muse

Canes re-sign pair for Charlotte

The Carolina Hurricanes have come to terms on contract renewals for Brett Sutter and Bobby Sanguinetti.  Each has re-signed for one year on a two-way deal. 

Sutter, who played very well in the playoffs for the Checkers, will be paid the NHL minimum of $525k, or $75k at the AHL level.  The contract has a guarantee of $105k.  He scored 21 (9/12) points in 60 regular season games, then led the Checkers with 14 (4/10) points and a +4 rating in 16 playoff games.  He appeared in one game for the Hurricanes last season, with no offensive stats to show.

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  Tags: bobby+sanguinetti, brett+sutter, carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers

Minor League Moves

Although there are some ridiculous rumors circulating about a possible trade involving Ales Hemsky of the Oilers, the Hurricanes are done with signings for the big team.  In the last 24 hours, they’ve seen one of the key pieces for the Checkers sign elsewhere and they quickly got some help down there.

On Thursday afternoon, the Capitals signed 27-year old left winger Jacob Micflikier to a one-year contract to play in Hershey.  Today, the Canes signed 30-year old Chris Durno, who had been captain of the Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay)

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, chris+durno, jacob+micflikier

Brandon Sutter’s New Deal

On Wednesday afternoon, the Carolina Hurricanes and alternate captain Brandon Sutter finally came to an agreement.  For weeks, the media has been telling us “the deal could be done as soon as today”, and today, the waiting finally ended. 

As everyone expected, the deal is for three years.  As everyone except me expected, the deal is for a hit of just a skosh over $2M.  I was wildly speculating that he would earn over $3M per season, and this is a pretty good deal.  The three year deal will pay a total of $6.2M, starting with $1.5 in 2011-12, followed by $2M, then finally $2.7M in 2013-14.

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  Tags: brandon+sutter, carolina+hurricanes

Canes, Brandon Sutter agree to terms

After weeks of hearing “the deal could be finalized as soon as today”, the deal has finally been finalized.  According to reliable sources, the Hurricanes and Brandon Sutter have agreed to a contract renewal.  No details yet.  A safe assumption is that the deal is for no more than three years.  That was the thing that Sutter’s camp was demanding.  I’ve been postulating all summer long that the deal would be for just north of $3M per season.  I’ve heard a lot of arguments that he should be paid considerably less than that, but I’m sticking to it. 

Whenever the details become available, I’ll share them. 

With that, the Canes should be done for the summer.

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  Tags: brandon+sutter, carolina+hurricanes

Deal (and no deal) with the Sutter cousins

The most famous family in hockey is the Sutters.  Brothers Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron were NHL superstars in the 1970s and 80s.  Their oldest brother Gary worked in a lumber yard and won a ton of money in the lottery.  They all have hockey-playing sons.  Three of those second-generation Sutters are in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.  There was news for two of them today.

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  Tags: brandon+sutter, brett+sutter, brody+sutter, carolina+hurricanes

How Social Networking Helped a Player Pick His Number

There’s a sweater number debate in Carolina that got solved by Twitter.  It’s not as exciting as the Mike Commodore situation in Detroit, but it’s still pretty neat. 

Tim Brent (@Brenter37), who signed with the Hurricanes on July 1, had a dilemma on his hands, and he turned to Twitter to get it resolved.  He’s always loved the number 8 and he always wore that as a kid, but has never been able to wear it in the NHL.  In Carolina, he finally has an opportunity, but he thought that 37 was pretty good to him.  He left it up to the twitterverse, and the end result is that he’s going with 37.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, tim+brent, twitter

Corvo traded

Just seconds after the Tomas Kaberle acquisition, the Hurricanes traded away the guy who had been the “old man” on the blue line when they sent Joe Corvo to the Bruins for a fourth round draft pick. 

I knew something must have been up for that brand-name acquisition to have happened.  Corvo was in the final year of a contract that will pay him $2.25M in 2011-12.  In the end, Carolina is taking on $2M in salary.  But I still don’t think they’re done.  They still need to acquire a forward.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, joe+corvo, tomas+kaberle

Tomas Kaberle to the Canes

It was just reported that defenseman Tomas Kaberle, brother of former Hurricane Frantisek Kaberle, has signed a three-year deal with the Hurricanes for $12.75M.

Another offensive defenseman? 

I guess this precludes the re-signing of depth defenseman Derek Joslin.  It also suggests that there might be a trade in the works.  More details later.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, tomas+kaberle

Hurricanes bring in five new players

On Friday, Carolina lost one of its star players to free agency, then added five new players.  They added four forwards and a goalie.  None was a blockbuster, but all should be great additions to the team. 

The biggest addition was goaltender Brian Boucher, who is the only active NHLer from the state of Rhode Island.  Like most of the free agent netminders on the market, he made his name as a starting goalie but now must make his money as a backup, most recently for Philadelphia.  He holds the record for longest shutout streak with five consecutive shutouts in during the 2003-04 season.  Since the lockout, Carolina will be his seventh NHL team. 

On Friday, they also added Tim Brent and Alexie Ponikarovsky from the Leafs.  Both already have highlight reel stuff from games against Carolina.  Brent for being awesome and Poni for being lazy.  More on this in a bit. 

On Saturday, they added two more.  Right wing Anthony Stewart from the Thrashers, who Jim Rutherford described as a “late bloomer”.  They also added some organizational depth in left wing/tough guy Justin Soryal, who has played his entire professional career with the Rangers AHL team.

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  Tags: alexei+ponikarovsky, anthony+stewart, brian+boucher, carolina+hurricanes, tim+brent

Canes sign Tim Brent

The Hurricanes have come to terms with 27-year old free agent Tim Brent for two years at a total of $1.5M.  This is the fourth line center they were looking for.  Good on draws, capable of chipping in a little bit of offense.  Good signing.  Good price.  After the dust settles, I’ll have a more detailed post. 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, tim+brent

Jokinen signing will be the last of the UFAs

Jussi Jokinen finally agreed to a three-year contract renewal with Carolina valued at $3M per season. Barring a really unusual turn of events, that should be it for re-signing UFA regulars.  Erik Cole is still expected to try the waters tomorrow when the free agent market opens. 
Forward Nick Dodge and defenseman Bryan Rodney and Casey Borer should re-sign, too, but they’re not for the big team.  It doesn’t look like the organization has interest in keeping UFA defenseman Zack FitzGerald.  UFA goalie Justin Pogge was not given a qualifying offer. 

Jokinen’s salary turns out to be a bit more than I thought it would.  For a while, it looked like his agent and Jim Rutherford were miles apart, but as negotiations heated up, I guessed that he would eventually sign for something like $2.75M.  In today’s market, this isn’t an overpayment at all, even if I was expecting it to be less.  If he had gone on the market, he might have seen offers of $4M or more.

The Canes will still have to go big tomorrow to find an Erik Cole replacement, and they’ll have to get some of the UFAs for Charlotte re-signed.  They’ll have to pick one of many FA goalies to be the #2 guy behind Cam Ward.  They’ll have to get RFA Brandon Sutter under contract, and that might happen today.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, free+agency, jussi+jokinen

In another weird twist, LaRose re-signs

Things have been a little crazy this summer in Carolina.  The UFA situation is muddy one minute, clear the next.  Negotiations with the players have gone from “we’re nowhere near” to “there should be a signing any second now” and back again.  Sometimes, those tidal flows occur several times a day.

All summer long, the assumption was that Joni Pitkänen would become a UFA, but he surprised everybody by signing a three-year contract renewal with no pay raise.  It was also assumed that Chad LaRose would look for greener pastures in the Free Agent market.  Today, there was another unexpected turn when the 29-year old Sharpie signed a two-year valued at a total of $3.4M.  The contract is identical to the one that he signed in the summer of 2009:  the first of two years at $1.5M and the second at $1.9M.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, free+agency

Pitkänen re-signs for three

This summer has already been pretty crazy for the Hurricanes, and the free agency period hasn’t even begun.  With daily ebbs and flows regarding the progress (or lack of same) being made with contract negotiations, certain players have been generally regarded as “as good as gone” while others have been viewed as “sure-thing renewals”.  Today, for the milllionth day in a row, there was a big wrinkle.  One that I never expected. 

Defenseman Joni Pitkänen was written off by most fans.  He was the one player who most believed to be the one who was being the most difficult with his negotiations.  And then today, he of all people was the first of the four “big” UFAs to re-sign.  He has signed a three-year contract renewal at $4.5M per season.  Although the particulars aren’t available just yet, we’ll assume that it’s $4.5 in each season, rather than 4 / 4.5 / 5 or something like that.  This is, incidentally, the same salary that Pitkänen got last season (with a cap hit of $4M).

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, erik+cole, free+agency, joni+pitkänen, jussi+jokinen

Canes re-ink Dwyer

When I wrote the other day about how the cap floor might give the Canes fits, I guessed at how the UFA situations would pan out.  I posited that rugged fourth-line winger Patrick Dwyer would get a two-year renewal at a $650k cap hit per season.  I was only off by a few pennies.  Today, they signed the 28-year old native of Spokane, WA to a two-year renewal with a cap hit of $625k per season. 

I also wrote that Dwyer is the new Chad LaRose and that fans better get used to the idea of Sharpie being out of the picture.  It’s not that I don’t like LaRose; contrarily, he’s one of my favourite players on the team.  It’s just that a team with a very tight budget can’t afford to pay Chad LaRose the way that they just paid him.  He made $1.9M this past season with a cap hit of $1.7M.  This is a reversal of stance from two summers ago when I said that he deserved every penny (and then some) of the huge pay raise.  It may sound a little contradictory for me to say that the Canes are going to have a rough time getting to the floor, then in the same breath say that they can’t afford to see/raise Chad LaRose, but I’ll try to make sense of it.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, free+agency, patrick+dwyer

Canes tempt fate by drafting defenseman

On Friday night, the Hurricanes did what they said they would do.  They drafted the “best player available” by selecting defenseman Ryan Murphy from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.  Most pundits had him going in the top ten, and many had him pegged to be selected eighth.  While flashy (and big)  forwards like Joel Armia and Sven Bartschi were still available, they went with little defenseman, who is just 5’11 and 176 pounds.

I’m not a big fan.

Carolina’s traditional modus operandi has been to draft defensemen in late rounds to load up the system and to acquire NHL-ready defensemen via trade.  They have not had any success when they’ve selected a defenseman in the first round.  I’ll get to that in a bit, but first, I’ll look at Murphy.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, defensemen, nhl+entry+draft

Cap floor might give Canes fits

Today, the NHL made official what we already knew.  The salary cap for 2011-12 will be $64.3M and the floor will be $48.3M.

As of right now, the Hurricanes have 12 players under NHL contract for 2011-12, with a total cap payroll of $32,083,333.  They’ve always been a thrifty team.  Given their stance on (not) renewing Joni Pitkänen, the high probability of letting Chad LaRose walk and the possibility of letting either Jussi Jokinen or Erik Cole walk, it’s going to be tough to even reach the floor.

The Canes are going to have to spend some money to fill out the roster.  They’ve already hinted at getting a real veteran goalie to backup Cam Ward.  They’ll have to make some other acquisitions through free agency or trade, and it might be fun.  I can’t even guess how that’s all going to pan out, but I can at least speculate on Carolina’s own free agents-to-be.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, free+agents, salary+cap, trades

This day in Hurricanes history

June 19, 2006 was the biggest day in Hurricanes history and indeed the best day in the lives of many Hurricanes fans. 

Game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.  After winning three of the first four, Carolina lost the next two, and it came down to a single game on home ice.  We all know what happened. 

Here’s how the final moment looked through my eyes (and a cruddy digital camera that I used to have):

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: 2006+stanley+cup, carolina+hurricanes

Justin Shugg signs entry-level contract

Even with the summertime news being slow, the official Carolina Hurricanes sources have been dropping the ball.  I had to learn from a TSN.ca email that the Hurricanes have signed last year’s fourth round draft selection Justin Shugg to a three-year entry-level contract.  Yesterday.  Still no word of it on the official site or from the News & Observer, save a tweet from Chip Alexander. 

According to capgeek, which says that the numbers aren’t official, the deal will pay Shugg $600k at the NHL level or $60k at the AHL level in 2011-12, and $625k NHL / $65k AHL for each of the next two seasons.  There is also a $225k signing bonus, which is spread over three years.  The cap hit will be $616,667 in all three years. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, justin+shugg

Canes, Harrison come to terms

On Thursday, there was a Hurricanes player signing after all.  Defenseman Jay Harrison, who would have become an UFA on July 1, agreed to a two-year deal which will pay him $650k in 2011-12 and $750k in 2012-13.  Last season was the final year of a two-year minimum-wage contract.  The minimum NHL salary for the 2011-12 season will rise from $500k to $525k.

This is presumably a one-way deal, although the official report doesn’t specify.

I was really hoping that this would get done, as Harrison was a much improved player and seems to be a really great guy in the room.  I will expect the Canes to also sign defenseman and RFA-to-be Derek Joslin some time fairly soon. 

If a trade is made to get rid of Joni Pitkanen’s rights, I would expect that to happen late next week, or possibly at the draft next weekend.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, jay+harrison

With Free Agent talks stalling, Canes looking to trade

On Sunday, Canes fans were told that a player signing was imminent.  We hoped that it would be Jussi Jokinen or Erik Cole.  Of the seven UFAs, those are the two who are generally regarded by Caniacs as the most important.  Today, we’re being told that they aren’t even close with any of the UFAs.  With the free agent market opening in two weeks, the Hurricanes have decided to shop the rights to those players instead of letting them walk away. 

I can’t even begin to guess who the trading partner or the player coming in this direction might be, Paul Branecky of Hurricanes.com says that a trade is close to completion.  One that would have “a power-play quarterback who can play among the top four defensemen – an immediate Pitkanen substitute - ” coming to Raleigh.  The Canes are looking to deal one of their two second round draft picks or even a prospect to make a deal happen. 

Jim Rutherford says ““We’re exchanging ideas, and something could happen any time.”

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, free+agency, joni+pitkanen, jussi+jokinen, trades

Hurricanes restucture hockey department

In a press conference scheduled for noon (eastern time) today, the Hurricanes will officially announce a restructuring of the hockey department.  The main change is that Rod Brind’Amour will join the bench, essentially stepping into the assistant coach position that Ron Francis held for the last couple of seasons.  He will also be the “director of forwards development” or something like that.  Francis will go back upstairs and focus on the Assistant GM duties.  If there’s anything beyond that, it’ll be news to me.

View the press conference live here

The “news to me” part is that Dave Lewis has joined the coaching staff to handle the defensemen.  He’s got loads of coaching experience from being an assistant and then a head coach for the Red Wings, then a head coach for the Bruins.  This should be a very nice addition to the staff. 


Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, rod+brind'amour

This date in Hurricanes history

While the Hurricanes aren’t doing anything this spring, May 28 is a huge day in the history of the Carolina Hurricanes.  Two of the biggest moments in franchise history have taken place on this date.  One in 2002 and the other in 2006.  Both occurred during Eastern Conference Finals play.  One of them was a “where were you when…” moment and the other was one that some Hurricanes fans might not even be able to pin down as a pivotal moment. 

The key players in these franchise-defining moments are Martin Gélinas and Cam Ward.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, jeff+o'neill, martin+gelinas

Oskar Osala going to KHL

Last week, rumors circulated that 23-year old Oskar Osala of the Hurricanes had signed a deal to play with HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk “Petrochemists” of the KHL.  He vehemently denied the rumors, saying that he had gotten some calls but hadn’t signed anywhere.  He gave all sorts of indications that he wanted to come back to play for the Checkers next season, but I saw some red flags.  He tweeted about wanting to get rid of a lot of “extra” clothes, and that seemed to me like the actions of a person who’s about to leave the country. 

Today, the announcement came that he had, in fact, signed with the Petrochemists.  The rumors were true.

The native of Vassa, Finland was one of the most promising players in the Hurricanes system.  He had just five (3/2) points in the playoffs, but 42 (13/29) points in 59 regular season AHL games.  He played in one NHL game for the Canes in 2009-10, with no scoring points. 

Osala tweeted today “I’m excited to move on, but hope to be back one day”.  I think Jim Rutherford learned a lesson (although it took getting burned twice to learn the lesson) from the Anton Babchuk situation.  Obviously, the Babchuk situation was different because he bailed for the KHL while still under contract, but it’s still walking away. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, khl, oskar+osala

One Canes Finn rumored to be headed to the KHL

Today, a guy named Dmitry Chesnokov, who is a contributor to the Puck Daddy blog, tweeted that Hurricanes prospect Oskar Osala has signed with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk “Petrochemists” of the KHL.  He went on to say that the official announcement will be made once the Calder Cup playoffs are over (although he wrote “AHL season”).  He was, evidently, getting his information from a Finnish rumor site. 

We were surprised to see this, then relieved when Oskar himself contradicted the tweet.  The flat denial could be a deflection so the Checkers can concentrate on their task at hand.  They’re down 2 games to none in a best-of-seven series with the Binghamton Sentators.  After losing games one and two at home, they have the task of having to win at least two of the three straight road games. 

It might be an effort at diplomacy, but I believe Oskar when he says (tweets):

Once again: I haven’t signed with anyone for next season. I’ve been getting a lot of calls from around Europe lately but haven’t made any decision about next season yet. For the record this is the third team I’m rumored to go to this spring!


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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, free+agency, oskar+osala, rumors

Canes off-season questions might already have answers

Today, Chip Alexander (twitter: ice_chip), who covers the Hurricanes for the Raleigh News & Observer, unleashed a flurry of tweets regarding the Hurricanes off-season plans.  Especially regarding the pending free agents.  A couple of them are a bit surprising.  Most of them are worth comment.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, free+agency

Hurricanes “Ice Man” Donnie MacMillian, 52, passes away

The Hurricanes organization got some bad news on Thursday night.  Donnie MacMillian, known as “Donnie Mac” passed away at the age of 52.  He was riding his mountain bike when he suddenly died.  According to the News & Observer, he was discovered by another group of riders, but it was too late. 

Donnie Mac was the ice tech and building superintendent at the RBC Center.  He was the only building superintnedent the RBC has ever had, and he’d been with the team even before the move to North Carolina.  He was hired as a Zamboni driver for the Hartford Whalers in 1993 after doing the same in the American League.  He moved with the team and was offered the position.  He was also given the opportunity to live at the RBC Center, which made it perfect for him.  Throughout every season, he literally lived in an RV in the parking lot of the RBC Center.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, donnie+macmillian, rbc+center

Checkers steal home ice.  Dalpe on fire

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here, and you probably can’t blame me for failing to find anything to post about.  I lost my job.  The Hurricanes missed the playoffs on the final day of their season.  Things haven’t exactly been sunshine and light over at RBH headquarters.  While the Hurricanes are looking at their free agent contracts, the Charlotte Checkers are busy in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. 

On Thursday, the series between the Checkers and the defending champion Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) got underway in Hershey.  Charlotte took that first game 5-4 on goals by Zac Dalpe, Chris Terry, defenseman Brett Bellemore, Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman.  Dalpe also added two assists. 

On Sunday, the Bears turned the tables on the Checkers.  They evened the series at on apiece with a 4-2 win.  Dalpe had both goals for the Checkers and now shares the league lead with three goals. 

This particular series uses the 2-3-2 format, so Charlotte will get three straight home games:  this Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  It will be the first ever Calder Cup playoff game in Charlotte.  By splitting the games in Hershey, Charlotte now has home-ice advantage in the five remaining games.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: calder+cup+playoffs, carolina+hurricanes, charlotte+checkers, joni+pitkanen, zac+dalpe

Bolts ruin Carolina’s hopes

In the final game of the New York Rangers, they knew that they had to win and get some help to get into the playoffs.  They did the only thing they had control of: they won their game against the Devils.  Carolina had to win, and hoped that the Lightning would “rest” its star players.  Things didn’t go well for the Hurricanes, and it was early and often that it didn’t go well.  Tampa scored thrice in the first thirteen minutes of the game and kept Carolina off the sheet.  In the second, they took a 4-0 lead halfway through, and the game was already over. 

Cory Stillman scored at 13:31 of the second, but it was already too late.  It was the front end of a five-on-three power play situation, but Carolina had already failed on three previous power plays. 

In the third, Chad LaRose scored at 8:33 to give the fans a little bit of hope, but the Lightning closed it out with two empty net goals to account for the final score of 6-2. 

This is the second time in the last four seasons that Carolina has missed the playoffs by losing in game 82.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, tampa+bay+lightning

It’s down to this

The Rangers have decided to make things a little more difficult for the Hurricanes. They’ve just beaten the Devils and now have 93 standings points.  Carolina must now win its game against the Lightning at 7:00.  As I said before, the Bolts can’t gain or lose anything tonight, so they might not be very hungry.  On the other hand, Carolina will be very hungry.  One thing that might come into play:  it doesn’t matter whether Carolina wins in regulation, overtime or shootout.  As long as they win.  The head-to-head tiebreaker would break a potential points tie and even an ROW tie. 

Both teams have been in this situation before.  Last season, the Rangers were kept out of the playoffs on the last day of the season when they lost a shootout game to the Flyers.  In 2008, the Hurricanes needed a win at home against the Panthers in their final game OR a Capitals loss to the same Panthers the next day.  It didn’t pan out for the Canes. 

And now everyone in Ranger nation will be watching Carolina tonight.  Henry and Linda Staal will be watching.  Jordan is already in the playoffs, and this game decides which of their other two NHL sons gets to go.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Bad day / good day

Friday was a mixed bag of emotions for me.  Due to a budget crunch, I lost my job of six years.  That sort of takes all of the wind out of any sails.  On Friday night, on the strength of the Two Finns and a Skinner line, the Hurricanes routed the Thrashers 6-1 to put themselves in eighth place and in control of their own destiny.

The Rangers take on the Devils at 12:30 today, and every Canes fan will be watching that game closely.  If the Rangers lose, the Canes are in no matter what.  Whatever the Rangers do, the Canes have to match or better.  At this point, Carolina has control of the tiebreaker scenarios, and by 3:00, they’ll know what they need to do. 

If it comes down to needing a win at 7:00 tonight, Carolina has the benefit of playing against a team who has nothing to play for.  The Bolts have already locked up the fifth seed and nothing that happens today or tomorrow can change that.  Will they give Dwayne Roloson the night off?  Will they play their top lines less?  If they don’t go 100%, there may end up being a conspiracy theory about the Bolts tanking the game to put another SE team in.  None of that will matter if the Rangers lose.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, carolina+hurricanes, jeff+skinner, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Two shutouts put Carolina in control of their own destiny

Two shutout games have given Carolina control of its own playoff destiny with two games left to play.  On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes surprisingly shut out the visiting Detroit Red Wings 3-0.  On Thursday night, the Atlanta Thrashers shut out the New York Rangers by the same score. 

The Rangers have 91 standings points—two better than Carolina, and have just one game to play.  They must win their last game against the Devils on Saturday AND get help from Carolina to make the playoffs.  Carolina, on the other hand, can control their own fate.  If they win their last two games, they’re in.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, detroit+red+wings, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, tampa+bay+lightning

Canes hopes take a hit

On Sunday, Carolina had a chance to put their destiny into their own hands.  Regardless of the outcome of the Rangers/Flyers game, if the Canes had beaten Buffalo in regulation, they would have moved ahead of Buffalo and into the playoff mix.  More importantly, they would have put themselves in a situation where they could control their own playoff destiny.  Things didn’t go well.  They went badly. Not catastrophically bad, but it wasn’t good. 

The Rangers won their game in a shootout, and that hurts the Canes. However, t’s potentially an advantage to the Canes that it was a shootout win.  Carolina lost their own game to Buffalo, 2-1 in overtime.  The consolation point is small consolation, but it might actually play a huge role on the final day of the season. 

Carolina now finds themselves two points behind the Rangers and three behind the Sabres with three games remaining for each team.  Although it isn’t a mathematical impossibility, catching the Sabres is extraordinarily improbable at this point.  To catch the Rangers, Carolina’s “magic number” is eight.  Any number of points that the Rangers fail to earn and points that the Hurricanes earn totaling eight will catapult Carolina over NYR. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, playoffs

A couple of scenarios for Sunday

After a great week for the Hurricanes, they’ve climbed out of a hole and are in a position to climb as high as seventh place on Sunday afternoon.  With four games to play, including the huge matchup with the Sabres on Sunday afternoon, there’s just two points separating seventh from ninth.  Depending on the outcome of that game and the outcome of the game between the Rangers and Flyers, Carolina might be pushed hard against the wall or they might be in seventh.  Or somewhere in between. 

There are a lot of different scenarios that could play out tomorrow.  Some of them involve tiebreakers from which Carolina would benefit.  While Carolina and Buffalo will each have three games remaining after Sunday, they’re both looking at that game as the most important game of the season. 

There are about two dozen scenarios with the two games, and I was gonna outline how each of them would impact the standings. but after about five scenarios, my head was swimming.  I’ll simplify it.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, ryan+miller

Surging Canes very much in the race

A week ago tonight, I gave last


rites to the Hurricanes after their home loss to the Lightning.  They were five points back of eighth place with a tough week ahead of them.  Since then,  all the Canes have done is win three straight games while Buffalo and the Rangers lost.  Suddenly, the Canes are just one point behind the eighth place Rangers and very much revitalized.  On Saturday, the Canes got another huge win on the road against a hot Islanders team.

Carolina was behind 2-1 after 40 minutes, and this was exactly where the Isles wanted to be.  They’re the third hottest team in the league since Christmas and they’d only lost one regulation game all season when leading after two.  Joe Corvo, Erik Cole and Eric Staal had plenty to say about that as they each scored in the third to give the Canes a 4-2 win.  Corvo had three points on the night and Cole had another game-winner.  He’s been Mr. Clutch in the second half and is looking more like the Cole we knew from before the injury. 

As I write, the Caps have just forced overtime against the Sabres, so Buffalo will be at least two points ahead of Carolina going into tomorrow’s enormous matchup at the RBC Center. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, joe+corvo, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Skinner, McBain pummel Habs

On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes got a two huge standings points, and one of their few lopsided victories on the season.  Rookie forward Jeff Skinner and rookie defenseman Jamie McBain each chipped in two goals to lead the way in a 6-2 pounding of the visiting Canadiens.  Joni Pitkanen and Cory Stillman also scored for the Canes. 

Meanwhile, at the HSBC Arena, the Sabres got a 1-0 shutout over the Rangers.  This means that Carolina is still three points behind the Sabres (and now also three points behind the Rangers) with just five games to play.  The Sabres have a slightly tougher road to hoe down the stretch, but the Canes can only concern themselves with their own games.  The most important of the five remaining games is the home game against the Sabres on Sunday.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, jamie+mcbain, jeff+skinner, montreal+canadiens

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