read in today's will read in Thursday's paper, the trade for and subsequent signing of Joni Pitkanen, along with the signings of Anton Babchuk and Josef Melichar, leaves the Hurricanes with seven defensemen under contract to go with restricted free agent Dennis Seidenberg and almost $2 million over budget.
In short, someone's going to have to go. But who?
If the Canes can get Seidenberg signed, then he's off the list. And he only made $850,000 last season, so he's not going to solve their financial problems.
So that points to Frank Kaberle and Niclas Wallin, both stalwarts of the 2006 Cup team. Kaberle was once the Canes' offensive pivot point, but declining numbers and new arrivals have reduced his role and made him expendable.
With Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, Matt Cullen and Babchuk ahead of Kaberle in the power-play point depth chart, it's tough to pay Kaberle $2.2 million. Whether the Canes will find any takers for a player who has had two injury-ridden seasons of declining performance is another matter.
We know there would be takers for Wallin, because the Canes were prepared to trade him, I believe to San Jose for Christian Ehrhoff, last summer. (Erroneous speculation linked him with the Flyers and ... Pitkanen.) But Wallin exercised his no-trade clause, which the Canes gave him to prevent him from returning to his native Sweden after winning the Cup.
Whether Wallin would agree to waive his no-trade clause now is anyone's guess -- this someone's guess: doubtful -- and at any rate the Canes could use his defensive ability as they load up on offense-first guys like Pitkanen, Corvo and, to a lesser extent, Babchuk. (Which is why they signed Melichar.)
Pitkanen, Corvo, Tim Gleason and Melichar have to be considered untouchable, and it's hard to imagine the Canes would move Babchuk to save $1 million, so if they're going to cut salary on defense, it looks like Wallin and Kaberle would be the guys they would try to move.