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What the Wild's depth at center means for the Canes

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I got a fair amount of email about my contention Sunday that if the Hurricanes traded up to draft Tyler Seguin, it would give them a 1-2-3 punch at center "as strong as" any in the NHL.

"What about Pittsburgh?" the emails argued. Well, yeah, the Penguins are better. But what about the other 28 teams in the NHL? That's a better question.

Consider what Mike Russo, who does as good a job of anyone covering the Wild for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, has to say about that team's depth at center:

The Wild desperately seeks a No. 1 or 2 center, uh, like 15 other teams.

In other words, the Wild are one of many, many NHL teams that would be thrilled to say they have Eric Staal (perennial All-Star, Canadian Olympian, point-per-game scorer since his sophomore season) and Brandon Sutter (impeccable defensively for a 21-year-old, scored 21 goals in his first full NHL season).

(The Wild would also be thrilled to have Matt Cullen, which is why the former Hurricanes center may be headed back to his home state this summer; certainly, it would be a good fit for both team and player.)

Add Tyler Seguin to that mix with Staal and Sutter, and few teams in the league could match that depth.

Pittsburgh, obviously. Detroit and San Jose are there. Boston, with Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Kreci? Maybe. Chicago and Philadelphia are close, or are pointed in the right direction. But not Tampa, despite Lecavalier and Stamkos. And not Washington, a glaring flaw in the way the Capitals are built.

The
point was, and is, adding Seguin would put the Hurricanes into an elite class of teams -- yes, like Pittsburgh -- with that kind of depth at center. Those teams tend to do pretty well. (All of the ones that just popped up off the top of my head won a playoff round this spring.) Look at Carolina in 2006, when Rod Brind'Amour was a rock defensively and Matt Cullen had a career year.

There aren't many teams that have two centers of the caliber of Staal and Sutter (or Staal and Seguin, for that matter). Having three of that quality changes everything.

As it turns out, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford was quick to respond by saying the Canes plan to stay at No. 7, because they think they can get a good player there and hold onto all those second-round picks. That follows up on what the owner said, that he'd just as soon not pick between Seguin and Taylor Hall.

And that's fine. There's nothing that says the Hurricanes have to move up and get Seguin. My point was just that they could, and if they did, the rewards could be tremendous. Just ask the Penguins. Or, for that matter, the Wild.

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#7 pick

Are you posters nuts!!?? They are in MUCH more need of help at defense. Cam Fowler or Erik Gudbranson would fit that bill nicely. Right now everyone is "assuming" Babchuk returns. SO!! While I love him offensively, he's a serious defensive liability. Don't you remember the gaffs he made behind his own net. Blind passes that ended up IN his net! Granted McBain had some good games but he's nowhere near the prospect either of them are. Would you pay Babchuk the $2M he's looking for? Not me. Not when he can never EVER be put on the ice for a PK.

Babchuk

No way Babchuk gets offered anything more than $1 mil.  After abandoning the team twice, IF he's coming back, it will be his tail between his legs, and at the pay that the Canes WANT to pay him and no more.  My guess is his contract will be closer to the league minimum and it will be considered a favor just to have the Canes let him back in the league.

One thing is certain when it

One thing is certain when it comes to reading comments out of the GM's office on Edwards Mill Road...never believe everything that is being spun in the media. Jimmy Rutherford is flat out lying when he says that he is not interested in Tyler Seguin. This is the same org that owns the Plymouth Whalers...Petey Karmanos baby is the Plymouth Whalers...this is the team that every year seems to select at least one Plymouth Whaler in the draft (Michael Jordan, Brett Bellemore, Chad LaRose, Tomas Kurka, Nikos Tselios, Justin Peters, Damian Surma) ...this is the team that sits with 3 or 4 second round draft picks in a draft year that is very deep...so dont believe for a minute that the Canes dont have enough assets to offer up in a trade to move up to second in the draft to select Seguin. Seguin as a Hurricane is not as far fetched as many people seem to think.

Sequin

I thought PK said it will when he commented that the luxury you have in having a prospect on your junior team is that you get to see all the the things they do well AND all that they don't do.

I watched Sequin play live head to head against Hall 4 times and saw him on two other occassions. He has a Kane like shot, skates well and has some moves. But in each game against Hall, Hall was the better player. Bigger, stronger, tougher and imposed his will. Tyler almost never imposed his will. Hall was also much better when he didn't have the puck.

So while I tend to agree with all the experts that Hall is a clear cut #1, I'm wondering if Sequin is really that much better than some of the other top 4 or 5 forwards availabe and it is worth trading up. Sure JR and PK probably have him their radar because of the of the Plymouth connection but I just don't see them giving up too much to move up. Unless they have no memoery of the Tselios fiasco. The need now is more at D and I could more see them give up a 2nd rounder, or prospect or roster player to move up to take one of the top 2 D available.

 

Sittler27

What would you think about the idea of (1) staying put and drafting Connolly, Johansen, or Niederreiter and (2) going out into the marketplace for a more veteran defenseman.  I really don't like the idea of trading assets for a defenseman when they are so hard to predict.  Tanabe was supposed to be a no-brainer, change the franchise type of player; and that certainly did not work out.  Corvo, for example, is likely to hit the UFA from what I read.  We know both his strengths and weaknesses.  Also with all due respect to people who crave a top 4 defenseman,  power forwards are almost impossible to find.  This year's draft is loaded with power forward prospects.  I think we should load up on all we can hold of power forwards in the first two rounds. 

Staying Put

After all the analysis that is probably what I would end up doing. The big question is which of those 3 to draft. I have seen tape of Neiderrieter and he plays with determination and an edge. At the WJC he was a real force for Switzerland and the reason they did so well.  More and more analysts seem to think he could make the leap right to the NHL.

Connolly is the wild card. Many had him ahead of Hall and Seguin before he had the hip issues.  He is magic with the puck and has enough size. But his last year of junior was a washout and there are questions. Can the Canes afford to take the chance that he becomes an injury plaqued writeoff. I just don't knowenough about Johansen other than that his stock appears to keep rising and he is a strong kid.

I tend agree with you that we can likely name a dozen quality D who could be useful UFAs and just as many solid forwards. But there are only a handful of true powerforwards that ever come available and we never have the money to pay the premium they command. Your point is well taken. If you can draft a quality power forward that is likely your best way to get one.

BTW.... we do have Kennedy from Barrie now under contract. If he can get past the concussion issues he could be a tough power forward who can play third line and he has the hands to score 20 goals a year. But that last dirty hit he took from Kassian.... wow.

Power Forwards in the System

Kennedy is definitely a sleeper and could make a run this year or next assuming he does not have more concussion problems. Osala is a beast (6'4" 225 lbs, speed and soft hands).  Osala was unloading on people at the World Championship.  Jared Staal also could be a sleeper. He has more ability than some people think and if he decides he is ready to make a 150% commitment to hockey, he could be awesome.  At 6'3" 195 lbs (and he should play at 215 lbs at least), Jared Staal could be a man mountain like Jordan Staal.  Mattias Lindstrom, a Hurricaes draft pick from 2009, is a 6'4", 205 lb forward.  He had a knee issue, but assuming he is healthy, he could make a splash in a year or two.

    The Hurricanes could be developing a very impressive pool of talent at power forward if they turn the 2010 draft into the year of the power forward to go along with the players already in the system.

Timing

I've always thought the big bodies take a little longer to get their size, quickness and agility all in sync. We may be getting lucky and getting players like Jordan Staal and Osala just when they are putting it all together. 

It sure would be a welcome change for us to be able to play a physical game with the likes of Philly and Chicago.

What if?

1.Staal

2.Sutter

3.Dalpe

4.Seguin

Yeah! ,i'm likin' that 1-4 centers possiblity's...What team would'nt!..were set for years to come.

 

 

 

center position

Of course having a player like Seguin can only help, but it's one thing to do what he's done in Juniors and doing it at the NHL level is something else all together. Unless Boston makes some kind of stupendous offer to the 'Canes to switch picks this is simply a pipe dream. I don't think that Jim would mortgage the future to get the #2 pick. Again, yes, Seguin would be part of the future but he is only one player. What might happen is what Pittsburgh will face in the future when it comes to keeping Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Fleury on the team. Ownership and management here doesn't want to get into a situation like Chicago is already in where they are over the cap before next season begins and they have key players to sign in the off-season. Stay at #7, maybe make a deal to get a player under contract by offering a choice or two, or maybe even a deal to swap the rights of RFA's with another team (Hello Rangers?)

#2 Pick

The Canes certainly must be looking for an opportunity to get Tyler Seguin without giving up all their other high draft picks. For example, if the Oilers select Taylor Hall with the #1 pick, then the Canes might try to swap 1st round picks with the Bruins by offering Jiri Tlusty. All the talk about how comfortable they are with the #7 pick may be true, or it may be a smoke screen. Should be a fun draft to watch.

Looking forward to the draft

I am looking forward to the draft as well but I doubt we will see Tlusty offered up.  I think Mo has taken him under his wing and will not let him go.

Sorta' like Lavi and Leighton!

 

#7 Pick

   Although Seguin is a top prospect and the Hurricanes would love to get him, there are other extremely talented forwards available.  Johansen seems to be the top-ranked center after Seguin and at 6'2" or 6'3" (depending apparently on who is measuring him), he is reported to have an Eric Staal approach to the game.  It does make sense for the Canes to take the best forward they can find, and hopefully a center. Dalpe is outstanding and although he plays center, he has tremendous skill and speed.  He would do extremely well at a wing. 

    My hope is that the Hurricanes front office will take advantage of this unique opportunity to load up on big, fast, physical forwards.  In fact, if it were me, I'd take only big, fast physical forwards for the first four draft picks.  These types of power forwards are almost impossible to find; and the 2010 draft has one of the best crops of those players seen in years.

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About the blogger

Luke has worked for The N&O since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist in August 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at (919) 829-8947, @LukeDeCock on Twitter or luke.decock@newsobserver.com.
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