NHL 2009 Free Agency: Carolina Hurricanes' Review and Outlook

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NHL 2009 Free Agency: Carolina Hurricanes' Review and Outlook
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This offseason, we have now reached the point where every team's roster has already gone through a makeover that will hopefully turn the team for the better next season.

One of those teams, the Carolina Hurricanes, has just caught on. After a quiet start, the Hurricanes have really opened up recently. However, their recent attraction to out-of-town stars has left them with little time remaining to resign several key players.

In this article, I will look at how the Hurricanes have fared in each of the three basic types of free agency transactions: "Re-signed", "Lost", and "Acquired". I will also give an outlook to some more moves that might be in the 'Canes' favor in the near future.

 

Re-signed

The Hurricanes went into the 2009 offseason with quite a few expiring contracts. They have done well so far, resigned almost all of them, but there a still a couple (Seidenburg and Ruutu, mainly) out there and in need of a team (Hurricanes or elsewhere)!

Eric Cole, Chad LaRose, and Jussi Jokinen have already agreed to terms with Carolina.

Eric Cole, who had a huge part in the 2006 Cup run, was re-acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline and did well in sparking Eric Staal with their terrific chemistry. Cole was regarded as a must-sign heading into July.

Chad LaRose isn't known for his goal-scoring touch, but did do well on the penalty kill (scored two shorthanders) last season. He has great work ethic and adds grit to the lineup as well.

Jussi Jokinen was another trade-deadline signing off the waiver wires in Tampa Bay. After the Hurricanes gave up almost nothing for him (Melichar and a late-round pick), Jokinen hit his stride in Carolina in the playoffs, scoring an unbelievable six game-winning goals in the playoffs (the 'Canes only won eight playoff games)!

However, still out there are Tuomo Ruutu, who is a top-class player for Carolina, and Dennis Seidenburg, one of our most reliable defensemen.

 

Lost

Besides the possibility of losing Ruutu and Seidenburg, both of which would be big hits if they did sign elsewhere, the 'Canes managed to hold onto about everybody.

Only Ryan Bayda will not be on the roster next season. Bayda was never an important player for the 'Canes and played parts of last season in Albany (minor leagues). His loss was also by choice and will not be missed.

 

Acquired

Until a few days ago, this column would be empty. However, just recently, the Hurricanes managed to ink several middle-class players from farther north.

Left wing Tom Kostopoulos, a former Montreal Canadien, was the first player to sign with Carolina. Kostopoulus was a reliable player for the Habs last season and his physical ability will add just what the Hurricanes' management wants.

Defenseman Andrew Alberts, who was a Flyer last year, is the other acquisition. Alberts had just 13 points last season (only one goal), but he will help take some of the holes out of the defensive-side of the 'Canes' defense. His acquisition will help cushion the blow if Seidenburg leaves for another team.

 

Outlook

The Hurricanes have caught onto their stride big-time in the past couple days, but there's still plenty left to do.

First of all, in my opinion, it's crucial to agree to terms with Ruutu as soon as possible. Ruutu was a breakout player last year and would be a big loss. Thankfully, Ruutu has filed for "salary arbituation", meaning that he is currently not accepting offers from other teams, despite being a FA. That seems to indicate that the Hurricanes GM Rutherford is negotiating with already.

Seidenburg isn't nearly as big of an urgency, but it would still be nice if we got him back, too.

Sadly, cash is a problem.

Ruutu is asking for a significant amount and Rutherford may not want to spend that. However, trading may be an option as well.

The Hurricanes' management has made it clear that Anton Babchuk will likely not be resigned, and defenseman Kaberle has also been the subject of the Hurricanes' "trade talk" for a while. Also, the addition of Kostopoulos has left Patrick Eaves without a starting job, which may lead him to being a part of a trade too.

If all three are traded for a single player (or even a good pick for next year's draft), this could free up some cap space, plus add another decent player into the depth chart.

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