Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford was a guest on NHL On The Fly the other morning and I heard him make a few interesting comments in regards to what moves he would make in free agency. He basically stated that he thinks he can sign a veteran defenseman in the early part of July but isn't sure if he can get a top-six forward because of the market. I reviewed the options for a top-six winger not too long ago and you can see that Rutherford's concerns about the market are valid. Outside of Parise, Semin, Doan, Parenteau and a few others, there isn't much available unless you want to take a risk or overpay someone.
This is one of the reasons why the Jordan Staal trade is so important. It gives the Canes a top-six talent who they might have struck out on in free agency. As of right now, they have a pretty good unit up front with the Brothers Staal, Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu, Jeff Skinner and possibly Jiri Tlusty. That's a respectable top-six but they are still short a winger if they want to be considered a dangerous team. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, their options for acquiring a top-six winger are limited so it's very likely that the top-six for next season will compose of players who are currently on the team. That might come as a disappointment to some fans but it might not be the worst thing in the world, especially with Jordan Staal now on the team.
Something that might be getting overlooked in the 'Canes hunt for a top-line winger is that they just don't need someone to play in the top-six, they need someone who can hold their own against tough competition. Both Staal brothers are power vs. power type players, meaning they normally are used against other team's top-six's and there's a good chance that Kirk Muller will use them in this fashion come this season. The Canes had the luxury of protecting Jussi Jokinen's line last season because of Brandon Sutter but now that he is gone, the wingers are going to need to learn to play against tougher competition.
If the Hurricanes are going to use one of their current wingers in a tough-minute role, the one who I feel is most suited for it is Tuomo Ruutu. Find out why after the jump.no comments