After what can only be called a disappointing way to finish off a solid season, the Hurricanes have revamped their roster and bolstered the defence in an attempt to take another run at the Stanley Cup.
The Hurricanes came into the off season with the goal of rebuilding a lack-luster and porous defense. The first step in this came late in the season with the Commodore/Stillman trade, picking up Patrick Eaves and Joe Corvo. What initially looked like a certain win for Ottawa has now shown to be far more beneficial for the Hurricanes.
With the retirement of Glen Wesley and the decision not to re-sign Bret Hedican, the Canes had plenty of space on the blue line to fill and began the process by trading gritty power-forward Erik Cole to Edmonton for 24 year old, puck moving defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen, the fourth overall pick in 2002, is expected to step in right away and take the lead on the defensive end.
Not satisfied, GM Jim Rutherford also signed Josef Melichar, who will be counted on to help out in the Canes own end. Finally, Dennis Seidenberg, another solid defensive defenseman, was re-signed to help balance the offensive and defensive strength of the Carolina blue-line.
These moves have, however, left the Canes with an excess of defensemen, as well as the problem of being over their self-imposed salary cap of $45 million, which will likely result in the trade of either Frantisek Kaberle and/or Niclas Wallin. Up front, the only major changes are the departure of Cole, and the likely addition of 2007 first round pick Brandon Sutter as fourth-line center. Cam Ward will once again handle the majority of the goal-keeping duties, being backed up by AHL All-Star goalie Micheal Leighton.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your projected 2008-2009 Carolina Hurricanes