Found September 12, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
As most of hockey world knows by now, the Hurricanes will be without defenseman Joni Pitkanen for the entire 2013-14 season. Pitkanen shattered his heel bone in a game against Washington in early-April and the word is that while the surgery was a success, he still has not been able to put weight on it and that's bad news for him making any sort of return in the next calendar year. The news isn't a surprise given the severity of the injury but it doesn't make it any less devastating. Pitkanen doesn't have the reputation of being a great defenseman around the league, but he is someone who typically logs 20+ minutes a night on the Canes blue line and that alone will be very tough to replace. He is also the Hurricanes best puck-moving defenseman and pretty much the only one on the blue-line capable of pushing the play forward on his own. People talk about how the Canes had "too many" puck-movers last year, but the truth is that Pitkanen was the only one who was effective at it. Pitkanen does make a lot of mistakes in his own zone, but that should not overshadow all the contributions he makes (making good plays out of his own zone, leading breakouts, giving another dimension to the Canes forecheck by jumping into the rush) so making up for this loss will be no easy feat. Considering how bad the injury looked, one would hope that the Hurricanes front office prepared for this news and have a contingency plan ready. Expecting Pitkanen to come back any sooner than January was probably wishful thinking and let's be honest, the Hurricanes defense was in rough shape even with him healthy, so there should have been plans to add someone else to the mix even if Pitkanen was going to return mid-season. Jim Rutherford did say earlier in the summer that they wanted to add another defenseman, but needed to move someone before doing so, which probably relates to cap space and clearing roster room. As of right now, the Canes have a little under $5 mil. in cap room and 16 defensemen in camp battling for roughly 6-7 spots. Pitkanen coming off the books opens up a spot in camp and about $4.5 mil. in cap space. That should give Rutherford enough breathing room to add another defenseman through free agency or a trade before the season starts. With the season being less than a month away, one would think that the Hurricanes options are limited but there are actually more doors open than some may believe. I already talked about the idea of adding Ron Hainsey or Tom Gilbert through agency last week, but what else is open to them? Option 1: Free Agency/Professional Tryout Deal This is what I suggested last week because there are two potential top-four guys available in free agency (Gilbert & Hainsey) and both can be added for a pretty low cost. I don't know if they would accept a tryout deal, but that might be the only thing open to them at this point of the off-season and the Hurricanes might be able to get decent value for either of them by the end of the season. Both are coming off big contracts and might be seeking more, but if they want to stay in the NHL, they'll have to accept something like a tryout deal or a one-year contract for about $1.5 or $2 mil. because neither has much leverage.  Yes, the Hurricanes are in desperate need for a defenseman, but both of these players have been passed over in free agency and the Canes aren't bidding with anyone to add them so why should they pay market value? When it comes down to it, both players are looking for NHL jobs and the Hurricanes can give that to them if they earn a spot in training camp. Someone like Hainsey, Gilbert or even Carlo Colaiacovo should be able to do this if they receive a camp invite. None of them are going to fix the defense, but they'll add depth and are capable of playing top-four roles at the NHL so they should be on the team's radar.  Option 2: Trades With $4.5 mil. coming off the books, this could open the door for a trade that doesn't involve the Hurricanes sending one of their forwards the other way. The cap going down has put a lot of teams in a bind right now, so it would be wise for the Hurricanes to take advantage of this situation by looking for a defenseman that might be the odd-man out on their club for cap purposes. Players like Matt Niskanen, Kyle Quincey, Mark Fayne or Braydon Coburn could be in the Hurricanes sights if they choose to go this route. Whether or not any trade like this happens remains to be seen, though. As much as the cap relief helps, I find it hard to believe that any of these teams will trade a top-four defenseman away for nothing unless they're desperate to clear a roster space or one of them falls out of favor with the coaching staff. This might be the case with Fayne in New Jersey, but I suspect that they'll look to move someone else before him. Same goes for Niskanen & Coburn in Pittsburgh & Philadelphia respectively. Option 3: Offer Sheet Cody Franson This is what everyone on the Internet wants to happen but chances of it occurring seem low. Rutherford does not strike me as someone who would offer sheet another player and it's tough to figure out just how much Franson is worth. He is a very good offensive defenseman and is only 26 years old, but it's hard for me to say that he is a proven top-four guy. He has ranked near the bottom of 5v5 time on ice per 60 minutes in his two years with the Leafs and hasn't been trusted much on the penalty kill either. Some of this probably has more to do with Randy Carlyle than Franson himself, but I would still be leery about giving up picks for a player who isn't a proven top-four player. That said, Franson does fit Carolina's needs in other areas. He is a defenseman that is capable of making his teammates better and pushing the play forward, as he has posted some great underlying numbers throughout his entire career. He has also been one of the best point-producing defensemen in the NHL since his rookie year and that alone could make him worth quite a bit. Is it enough for Carolina to give up draft picks by offer sheeting him, though? TSN's Darren Dreger said that he believes the Leafs will match anything lower than $3.3 mil. per season and that would require the Canes to give up a second round pick or a first and a third rounder as compensation (depending on what they offer Franson). Has Franson done enough for the Canes to give up two draft picks to get him? They would also probably have to take on long-term money to get him and that could become an issue with Justin Faulk & Jiri Tlusty due for extensions next season. Offer-sheeting Franson isn't a bad idea, but there are some risks attached to it that I'm sure Rutherford isn't willing to take right now. Option 4: The Waiver Wire This is sometimes referred to as "dumpster diving" by fans, but it's really not a bad thing to do. There are a lot of times when good, young players end up on waivers because their NHL club's roster is too crowded for them to earn a spot. The Islanders added two solid defensemen through waivers last year in Thomas Hickey & Brian Strait and I wouldn't hate it if the Hurricanes followed a similar method. I can't predict who ends up on waivers, but there are always a few interesting names out there and with the Canes being 5th in the pecking order, they have a decent chance to land one. This also has less risk attached to claiming a player off waivers rather than giving up assets for a player who you may not be completely sold on. Depending on who is available, this could be an attractive option to the Canes. If I were running the Hurricanes, I would go the free agency route for now and invite Hainsey, Gilbert or Colaiacovo to camp on tryout deals to see how they fit in. If neither of them work out, then I would start thinking about trades or offer sheeting Franson. When you're a team like the Canes, you want to get as much value as possible out of every player, and getting a top-four guy on a tryout deal or through waivers is the best way to do that at his point of the off-season.

Hurricanes' Pitkanen out for 2013-14 season

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the upcoming season as he continues to recover from a broken left heel suffered late last season. The 29-year-old Pitkanen missed the final 13 games of the 2012-13 season with the injury, which occurred in April in a game against Washington when he raced down the ice in an attempt to beat an icing call. Hurricanes president...

'Canes' Pitkanen out for season

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the upcoming season as he continues to recover from a broken left heel suffered late last season. The 29-year-old Pitkanen missed the final 13 games of the 2012-13 season with the injury, which occurred in April in a game against Washington when he raced down the ice in an attempt to beat an icing call. Hurricanes president...

Canes' Pitkanen to miss season with heel injury

The Carolina Hurricanes will be without defenseman Joni Pitkanen for the 2013-2014 season general manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday. Pitkanen suffered a broken heel bone in early April and underwent surgery. It was believed the veteran from Finland would recover in time for preseason training camp which began Wednesday but the team first learned a few weeks ago that Pitkanen...

Joni Pitkanen will miss 2013-14, career might be in jeopardy

Joni Pitkanen suffered a brutal injury to his heel during the 2012-13 season when he was racing back to complete an icing call against the Washington Capitals. Pitkanen lost his balance and crashed awkwardly into the boards, breaking his left heel bone. The injury was significant enough to force Pitkanen to miss the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, it appears the injury...

Joni Pitkanen to Miss 2013-14 Season

Jim Rutherford President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes today announced that defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the entire 2013-14 season. Pitkanen 29 suffered a broken left calcaneus (heel) bone on April 2 against Washington and missed the Hurricanes’ final 13 games of the season. The 2013-14 season would have been his sixth with Carolina...

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Carolina Hurricanes find solid replacement for Joni Pitkanen

Ron Hainsey will eat up some of Joni Pitkanen’s minutes for the Carolina Hurricanes. That is no small thing.With Pitkanen sidelined for the season with his career-threatening heel fracture, Hainsey’s arrival will held fill a major void. He played 47 games in Winnipeg last season and blocked 123 shots, most on the team. He isn’t a big offensive threat (no goals, 13 assists last...

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I Thought It Was Safe To Talk About The Weather

Poor Andrej Sekera who was traded from Buffalo to Carolina during the NHL Draft in June...   Sekera on the change from Buffalo to Raleigh: "I think everything is better than Buffalo." — Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) September 12, 2013 You can read the Twitter reaction here... But..   Andrej Sekera’s quote was about weather. Hear the full...

Andrej Sekera Trolls The Entire City Of Buffalo

Sekera on the change from Buffalo to Raleigh: “I think everything is better than Buffalo.” — Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) September 12, 2013 This off-season Andrej Sekera was dealt from Buffalo to Carolina in return for Jamie McBain and a 2nd Round Pick. Sekera had spent his whole career to that point with the Sabres, but that doesn’t mean he liked living in The Queen City...

Training Camp Battles: 3rd Line Center

This year's training camp feels a little different than other years because there are so many roster spots up for grabs and the Hurricanes invited more young guys to camp than usual. There are 44 skaters in camp this year and a good chunk of them are either rookies or guys who spend the majority of last season with the Charlotte Checkers. The Hurricanes are kind of forced to...

Five free agents that could help the Hurricanes

Carolina's training camp begins today and while they have only one player there on a professional tryout deal (Radek Dvorak), the door could still be open for them to add a few more bodies to camp. If the entering roster is any indication, Kirk Muller and his staff are aiming to have a young team this year and most of the club's prospects will compete for the few remaining...

Hainsey Signs With Carolina

Ron Hainsey gets 1yr / $2M from the Hurricanes. #TSN — Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) September 12, 2013 added 3:29pm, RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Ron Hainsey on a one-year contract. The deal will pay Hainsey $2 million...

Hurricanes Agree to Terms With Ron Hainsey by   Steven Ellis

Following the announcement that Joni Pitkanen’s slow recovery from a shattered heel bone would keep him out for the year, Ron Hainsey has signed a one year, $2 million contract. Hainsey was drafted in the first round, 13th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. A reliable defenseman, Hainsey has totaled 34 goals and 192 points in 591 career NHL games [...]
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