Photo credit: Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI
By Dylan Howlett (@DylanHowlett)
In September 2008, Jim Rutherford could see the vultures swirling overhead: salivating, expectant.
The Carolina Hurricanes general manager had assembled a talented nucleus of young, incipient stars. The post-championship blueprint — devised to ween Carolina off the veteran-laden 2006 Cup-winning club and acclimate the Hurricanes to a younger, faster, skill-driven league — seemed surefire, even in the wake of two straight playoff misses.
What wasn’t entirely certain, however, was Rutherford’s capacity to ward off the vultures.
They had victimized the New Jersey Devils on a nearly-annual migration, swooping into the Meadowlands and prying away Scott Niedermayer, Scott Gomez, and Brian Rafalski. They would descend ravenously upon the Chicago Blackhawks just two years later, leaving the 2010 champs hardly recognizable from their Cup-lifting incarnation.
So is the parasitic ways of the salary cap-era NHL, in which team...