For Niclas Wallin, the timing couldn't have been worse. The Canes have a glut of defensemen and some tough decisions to make on a regular-season roster, and Wallin has been sidelined since suffering a concussion in the first preseason game against the Washington Capitals.
While Wallin sat, such players as Dennis Seidenberg and Frantisek Kaberle have played well and been solid. The talk of possibly trading Kaberle has subsided. Anton Babchuk has come off a leg injury and is paired with Josef Melichar, and the two will play together tonight against the Nashville Predators. Something has to give.
"We all know the deal," Wallin said today after an on-ice workout at the RecZone. "We're all professional and all NHL defensemen. Obviously it's a coaching decision and a management decision to see who will be there.
"It's always a tough situation when you have it like that. Sometimes, it can be good, too, with the injuries we've had. Finally, I'm healthy. I feel great. We had a lot of injuries last season, Maybe they want to be on the safe side and have an extra defenseman.
"I hate to see someone go. I've been here since early August and we worked out every day. We're all teammates and all friends but at the end ofthe day there's going to be six or seven who will play. We'll see who is it."
Wallin, 33, doesn't believe missing preseason games will hurt his status, given his injury, nor would he say he was anxious or nervous about the final decision on roster spots.
"Concussions are concussions," he said. "I've played through concussions before but this one is different. It's better to me to be on the safe side today and be ready when the (regular-season) games start.
"But nervous? I can't say I'm nervous. The coaches will have the say. I'm here doing my thing. I'm healthy and in better shape than I was last year, so I've done my part in the offseason and summer in training. So we'll see opening night."
Wallin said he hopes to play in the final preseason game Sunday against Nashville.