Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An active week for the Canes

Quite a bit has happened over the last week and a half - and it doesn't look like the news is going to slow down anytime soon, so let's get caught up, shall we?

The amazingly wonderful Jeff Skinner won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. I heard the Awards ceremony was pretty horrible to watch, so I'm glad I wasn't quite that bored this year to suffer through it. But I am very happy for Skinner - us Caniacs knew how awesome he was this season, so it's nice to see him get some credit from the rest of the league as well.

The 2011-2012 schedule was released. I'm excited because I'll get to see the Opening Night game for the first time in a few years.

I think I'll take this opportunity to mention the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets move. In short, not a fan. I like the South. I like hockey. I get really really really tired of people cracking jokes about hockey not belonging in the South. So I feel for Atlanta because their fans got screwed and nobody really seems to care. I'll always remember the Thrashers playoff games I was able to attend back in 07 - definitely a lot of fun.

From a scheduling standpoint, the city change completely throws a wrench into the NHL's regional divisions, meaning the Canes and the rest of the Southeast are going to have to make huge trips to Winnipeg multiple times throughout the season. There are rumors that the NHL plans to rearrange the league after this season, which will make a lot of sense. Hopefully the current rivalries are preserved, but I guess we'll see what happens with that later.

The day after the schedule was released, the Canes selected Ryan Murphy with the 12th pick of the Draft. Apparently he's a steal at number 12, but I certainly wouldn't know. His stats show that he could be an offensive powerhouse on the d-line... but he's also a 5'11" d-man. Rutherford, apparently, dislikes drafting size. It worked out with Skinner last year, hopefully it will do the same this year.

Finally, the first day of free agency is approaching, and the Canes are wrapping up some of their players before they hit the market. The two notable signings are Joni Pitkanen at $4.5 million over three years and Chad LaRose for $1.5 and $1.9 mil for two years.

I like the Pitkanen signing - I do like him on the blueline and I think the contract is the going rate for defenseman. I don't think the Canes would have been able to get anyone much better for the same price through free agency, so I like the deal. Of course I like the Chad LaRose deal, and it seems like the right amount for him as well - hopefully he can rebound from this less than stellar past season.

The fact that Erik Cole has not yet been signed is very concerning for this Caniac. I would have thought that he would have struck a deal by now - in my last post it seemed like negotiations were coming along well... apparently not? I hope he and the Canes will still be able to work it out.

Whatever happens with that, we'll find out in a few days. I'll definitely update with what occurs during free agent signing day!

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