It's been more than two months now since we last saw the Carolina Hurricanes take the ice, and while they won't be hitting the rink this weekend either, it's finally back to business for at least a few 'Canes.
Those 'Canes would primarily be GM Jim Rutherford, owner Peter Karmanos, and director of amateur scouting Tony McDonald. They'll have the task of making ten—and perhaps more—selections in Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
In truth, Carolina could be one of the league's busiest franchises this weekend.
Only one team—the Washington Capitals, with 11 choices—will enter this weekend with more draft picks than the Hurricanes. Moreover, only one other team—the Buffalo Sabres, with four picks—will make more selections than the 'Canes in the draft's first 50 slots, in which Carolina will pick three times.
The Hurricanes' over-sized portfolio of draft picks will certainly be beneficial in the long run, but, for now, it only leaves more questions left to be answered this weekend.
When the club comes up for the eighth overall pick Friday night, will they stick with their typical pick-the-best-player-available strategy—one that could easily equate to a 'D'-man in this year's defensively-heavy class—or target the team's more needy position, forward?
Further, given the abundance of mid-round picks Rutherford currently has up his sleeve, how will the 'Canes increasingly shallow prospect pool be filled out? Will the team look for entry level contract-ready players, who could be sent to nearby AHL affiliate Charlotte, or for European-trained prospects who will eventually take a direct route to the NHL?
And lastly, what will the role of trades be in the 'Canes Friday and Saturday activities? After Rutherford told Chip Alexander "We're trying to...get in on [this week's] early trades", trade rumors have swirled all around Raleigh—but the 'Canes still haven't traded a first-round pick since 2004.
How will the 2012 NHL Entry Draft play out for the Hurricanes? Our full mock draft and weekend preview falls on the coming slides.