Tuesday, July 25, 2006

White Wedding...

Congratulations to Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward and his lovely bride, Cody Campbell who tied the knot this weekend on July 22nd. Cam is living the dream this summer, no doubt about that! On top of all the public appearances, planning his wedding, and attending award ceremonies, he still made the time to coach a goalie camp in Red Deer that he had committed to earlier in the year. Best of luck to the happy couple and we are all looking forward to seeing you back in Raleigh real soon! Here is a picture of the couple taken during the Cup parade last month.

Billy Idol

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Hurricanes acquired several depth players this past week. A few of them will be called upon to help out during the injury bug which all teams fall prey to and could be somewhat significant signings. Shane Willis and Derrick Walser will be borderline type players who will probably make the shuffle from Albany to Raleigh and back a few times. They undoubtedly will be asking Coach Laviolette at some point in the season, should I stay or should I go now? Both were signed 2-way contracts which mean they make the big bucks while they stay in the NHL, (NHL minimum) but will make AHL salary while they aren't in Raleigh. The good news for them is that their designated AHL salary is significant for that standard, over 100K per year. Both will get 150K guaranteed, also somewhat high and unusual for that type of player.

Tim Conboy, Mike Angelidis, and Scott Kelman were also signed. These three also signed 2 way deals, but much lower on the back end. Finally, JD Forrest from Finland was signed. He's another high scoring defenseman, as is Walser.

The most interesting signing here is that of Willis. Shane is making a home coming and was one of the Canes most popular players back when he was a rookie here in 2000-01. After suffering a couple of nasty concussions, his game dropped off and he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2002 and last year was released by them. He's back again for a 2nd try and it would be great to see him regain his old scoring form.

Albany fans should be thrilled, the Canes seem to be building the farm team from the ground up and these guys looks good on paper. Go River Rats!!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hey Joe...

Yesterday Joe Vasicek, the Czech Condor was traded for long time Predator Scott Walker. Joe was originally drafted by the Canes in 1998 and had been with the team for 5 years. Scott is one of the original Predators acquired from Vancouver in the expansion draft and has played in the league 10 years. Both players contracts expire after this season, although Joe will be an RFA while Scott will be a UFA.

Vasicek had many good moments for the Canes and looked especially promising during the 2002 playoffs and the 2003-04 season when he led the team in scoring. This year was extremely disappointing though as he tore up his knee and only played about 20 games. The disappointment culminated during the playoffs when he understandably looked out of synch with the rest of the team and went scoreless. In my opinion, Joe will be a fine 3rd line center someday and should be good for about 20 goals and 20 assists per season. I doubt he will ever be a superstar, but he should fit in nicely with the other Czech players as a role player in Nashville if he can stay healthy.

Scott Walker is noted as being Nashville's alltime leading scorer! He's also had his fair share of injuries though. The Canes are hoping he can turn into another Matt Cullen, someone who had the injury bug and had low production in recent years, but someone who could regain their scoring touch and be a difference maker. Walker is a fast skating, hard hitter who plays a much more aggressive style than does Vasicek. He's likely to be a bit more productive for the Canes than Vasicek would have been this year because he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove and with every intention to cash in on a new contract next year.

As different as their playing styles are, the players have strikingly similar career stats. Walker has played 596 games in 10 seasons, averaging 59.6 games per year. Vasicek has played 316 in 5 years, averaging 63.2 . Walker has scored 106 goals those 10 years along with 184 assists which averages to be 10 goals and 18 assists a year. Vasicek scored 55 goals and 71 assists in his 5 years which averages 11 goals and 14 assists per year. Both score goals in 17% of the games they play in. This is one of those trades in which both teams should benefit, at least for the coming year.

Bye Joe, we wish you well!

Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours!

Jim Rutherford did it again! Not only did he sign the bulk of the team in record time, by early July, he signed everyone at reasonable salaries and most at multi-year contracts. He's well under his self imposed budget of 40 million which leaves him room for sensible acquisitions later in the offseason or after the season begins. Besides all of that, he also undertook of signing arguably the best coach in the NHL to a 5 year contract and completed this all in about 2 to 3 weeks! While many other teams are still scrambling trying to find players or trying to rearrange numbers to stay under the cap, Jim can take a few weeks off now and enjoy his executive of the year honors and savor being GM of the World Champions.

Some positive things for Caniacs to consider: The players like it here and seem to want to stay. Budding superstars like Erik Cole, Eric Staal, and Justin Williams could have all played hardball and filed for arbitration to test the market value for themselves like several other players did, (12 from Buffalo alone). Rutherford would have been virtually forced to match whatever an arbitrator awarded them. Instead they chose the security of multi-year deals while making reasonable amounts of money. Captain Rod Brind'Amour signed a 5 year deal virtually assuring his retirement in Raleigh where he is loved and cherished. I give credit to these players who could have been greedy and looked after themselves a bit more and maybe could have made more money, but instead did what was best for the team as well as what was fair for themselves. I also give credit to owner Peter Karmanos. After finally succeeding in his lifelong quest to win the Cup, he could have sat back on his profits from last year, tightened the purse strings, and refused to take the chance of getting back into the high budgets and losses of years past. Instead he aggressively increased his budget from last year by 12 million, (from 28 million to 40 million) and seems perfectly willing to test this market again and see if he can capitalize on the success from last year's championship. As a Hurricanes fan, this pleases me very much because it shows a bonifide commitment to this market, franchise, team, and fanbase.

Below is the listing of players and their contracts (as related to the Cap) and where the Canes stand with their budget. My figures have us at about 38 million, just 2 million shy of our budget of 40 million and 6 million short of the regulated salary cap of 44 million. We could still sign a winger, we could make a trade, or we could stand pat until the season starts. It's nice to have the flexibility and still have the core of our offense and defense of last year's great team!


Staal, EricC4,000,000.00
Brind'Amour, RodC3,600,000.00
Hedican, BretD2,432,000.00
Kaberle, FrantisekD2,200,000.00
Wallin, NikD1,725,000.00
Grahame, JohnG1,400,000.00
Ward, CamG684,000.00
Adams, KevynC725,000.00
Ladd, AndrewRW984,000.00
Cole, ErikRW4,000,000.00
Letowski, TrevorRW800,000.00
Vasicek, JoeLW1,300,000.00
LaRose, ChadRW450,000.00
Williams, JustinRW3,500,000.00
Adams, CraigRW600,000.00
Commodore, MikeD1,200,000.00
Hutchinson, AndrewD475,000.00
Stillman, CoryLW1,750,000.00
Whitney, RayLW1,500,000.00
Tverdovsky, OlegD2,500,000.00
Babchuk, AntonD900,600.00
Wesley, GlenD1,200,000.00


Stevie Wonder