Speculation is increasing the Pittsburgh Penguins may be willing to trade center Jordan Staal and that the Carolina Hurricanes could be the team most likely to land him.
No one with the Canes will comment specifically on Jordan Staal, of course. That's not allowed and would be considered tampering.
General manager Jim Rutherford, in an interview today, did talk in general terms about what the Canes are looking for in the offseason. Rutherford has talked several times about the need of acquiring a scoring winger to play on Eric Staal's line, but his comments today were interesting and the focus may have changed.
"What we're working on now is whatever it takes to get a top player, whether it's a center or a wing," Rutherford said. "Eric can play the wing. He has played the wing before and played there in the (2010) Olympics (for Team Canada). He has played very well on the wing."
Rutherford noted that seeking out a free agent can be risky in that there will be other bidders and the player can pick and choose. Should forward Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils be available July 1 and Carolina be interested, the Canes could be just one of several suitors waiting in line.
"In free agency, you don't have control over where a player decides to go," Rutherford said. "If you trade for a player and he's under contract, you know he's coming to the Hurricanes."
Jordan Staal, who will make $4.5 million next season, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012-2013 season. Again, there is risk involved. But Rutherford, again without mentioning Jordan Staal, said that such a contract status would not be a stumbling block to a potential trade.
"You don't get any assurances, so you would need to have confidence in what we have to offer and what the player would be willing to take to stay here," Rutherford said. "You need to be able to do whatever it takes to get that player (signed) beyond that next year."
The Canes have the eighth overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft. Rutherford said the team would consider trading the pick, but only for the right player. ...
In other team news today, Rutherford said there will be some reorganization to the coaching staff. John MacLean and Dave Lewis will remain as fulltime assistants, he said, and Rod Brind'Amour will become a fulltime assistant coach next season and will travel with the team.
Brind'Amour was a member of the coaching staff last season but rarely traveled with the team, spending time working with forward prospects in the Canes' minor-league system and fulfilling a prior commitment to help coach his son's junior team. Rutherford said head coach Kirk Muller would decide if Brind'Amour would be behind the bench during games or the team's "eye-in-the-sky" monitoring games from the press level.
Rutherford said Muller wanted a change in the duties of a goaltending coach, which could mean Tom Barrasso being reassigned. Barrasso has been a fulltime assistant coach while also working closely with the Canes goalies.
"Kirk (Muller) would like a goaltending coach to be around about 10 or 12 days a month, or as needed," Rutherford said. "The other part of the month would be spent working with our goalie prospects or scouting for potential goalies.
"This may not work ideally for Tommy (Barrasso). He will need to decide. His goal is to be an assistant coach or one day a head coach, so we'll need to work through that. Maybe he will help with pro scouting." ...
-- Veteran defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek are due to become UFAs and Rutherford said it's likely neither will be re-signed by July 1 and would test free agency.
"They'll go into July to see what's available in the market, and we'll see where we're at with players," Rutherford said.
Rutherford mentioned defensive prospects Brian Dumoulin and Ryan Murphy, but also said the Canes needed to "make a decision on Bobby Sanguinetti."
Sanguinetti, who had a very productive season for the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), has "made a strong case to be with the Hurricanes next year," Rutherford said.
"He's really come into his own and become the player we thought he'd be," Rutherford said of Sanguinetti, a former first-round draft pick by the New York Rangers who was traded to the Canes in June 2010.
Rutherford also said the Canes are working on a new contract for defenseman Jamie McBain, a restricted free agent, and that it could be completed soon.