If there was any criticism of how Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford handled the end of last season, it would be that he made too few moves and did much too little, too late. Trade Deadline 2013 came and went, seeing the Hurricanes making zero trades. For a team spinning completely out of control after the All Star Break, to have done nothing was blasphemous to the fans.
This is not the case heading into 2013-14.
With the end of Preseason coming in the form of a win over conference rival Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the Hurricanes had a busy Saturday.
First came the trade. Carolina sent two forwards, Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Kellan Tochkin and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick. Welsh being sent off was a surprise to nobody. He was either going to get sent back to Charlotte or released outright. While he showed flashes of talent during the preseason — baring some sort of catastrophic injury — it was safe to say he wouldn’t have made the team.
Dalpe is another story. Last season, he split his time between Raleigh and Charlotte, filling in for the injury-riddled Hurricanes here and there. He had just enough talent to be reliable in closing injury gaps, and to be viewed as one of those “future of the franchise” types of players. Whether or not Vancouver will choose to use him to his fullest abilities remains to be seen, however he is sure to make his presence known.
Tochkin is somewhat of a question mark. A stand out in the Central Hockey League (CHL) and some other minor and Juniors level squads, he doesn’t have enough NHL credentials to make an accurate statement either way. He’s an enigma. Fans would be wise to reserve judgement until Tochkin gets some ice time for the Hurricanes, or more realistically… Charlotte.
It seems more like Tochkin was a “throw in” for what Rutherford was really after, the draft pick. Trading for players has never been Carolina’s strong suit. Last season, Rutherford spent unheard of amounts of time and energy trying to complete his collection of Staal bobbleheads. Eric and Jordan Staal are doing well — though some argue Jordan is overpaid — but was Jared necessary? Not to mention the rumors of pursuing Marc Staal? All this time, Zach Parise goes untraded. So seeing Rutherford go hard for a draft pick is not outside of the realm of reason. The draft is a great place to bank on the future.
The only problem is that fans don’t buy tickets to see Playoffs in the future.
Later in the day, word came out that the Hurricanes had sent forward Chris Terry down to Charlotte. This is good for two reasons. One is that it means the roster is just about solidified. More importantly, if you’re keeping score, that’s three forwards gone, one traded for, leaving a roster short two forwards. Carolina has more forwards than they know what to do with. It’s time to start focusing on the back end, and beefing up the defense. Tim Gleason isn’t getting any younger. Hopefully, this is a sign of room being made on the clipboard for more defensemen. Hopefully.
It’s a long week until Opening Night on October 4 when the Hurricanes welcome the Detroit Red Wings to PNC Arena. Until 7:00p.m. Friday night, all of this is pure speculation. However, be on the lookout for one or two more quick moves prior to the season opener.