It certainly has been an interesting off-season for Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford. He saw one of his biggest bromances between Erik Cole and Eric Staal break up (Does anyone know if Cole has gotten adjusted to that Montreal media yet? No? Didn’t think so), he used his gigantic pimp hand (originally mentioned by Puck Daddy here) to keep Jussi Jokinen (and his awesome dancing skills), Chad LaRose, Joni Pitkanen, Patrick Dwyer, and “Blue Steel” Jay Harrison. With the exception of Jokinen, whose salary went up to $3 million per year, Rutherford was able to keep the rest of these unrestricted free agents without any major salary increases. That, my friends, is the power of JR’s pimp hand. Of course, knowing that the players truly and genuinely loved playing at the RBC (soon to be PNC) Center helped ease how much baby powder Rutherford’s hand was going to need.
Why is he one of the best GMs in the league, you ask? Knowing the Hurricanes is a “self-imposed budget team,” according to former winger Erik Cole, Rutherford knew he had his work cut out for him coming into this offseason. Not only was he able to keep the majority of his free agents, but he decided to go out and get some “bang for the buck” players. Tim Brent, Anthony Stewart and Alexei Ponikarovsky all are expected to play huge roles to try to make up for the points Cole took with him to Quebec. Tomas Kaberle, who essentially will be taking Joe Corvo’s spot in the roster, has playoff experience and, despite what was shown in the playoffs last year, will play a major role on the team’s power play. Perhaps one of the most underrated signings, however, was the one of Brian Boucher to back up Cam Ward in net. At 34 years old, Boucher has the veteran experience that Caniacs have been looking for in order to take a good chunk of the workload off of Ward. Rutherford did this with adding about $8 million to the Canes’ salary cap. If you take what Joe Corvo was expected to make and include what Erik Cole was going to be offered (about $6.6 million total), then seeing that JR was able to replace 2 players with 4 for only approximately $1.4 million is insane (this figure doesn’t include Tomas Kaberle’s salary at $4.0 million this year).
Sure, Carolina isn’t a huge market. Some fans feel that their team and organization doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. This might be true, but the General Manager is widely known as one of the best in the league. He is able to find talent out of nowhere (i.e. LaRose), keep players around at discounts compared to what they would make on the open market (i.e. Pitkanen), and more times than not comes out on the winning end of trades. There have been some missteps and faults like every GM has (David Tanabe or Anson Carter anyone?), but Caniacs rest peacefully that the man running their team is truly top notch.
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Topics: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Brian Boucher, Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, Chad LaRose, Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Jay Harrison, Jim Rutherford, Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen, Jussi Jokinen, Patrick Dwyer, Tim Brent, Tomas Kaberle