OK, I gotta say it. It seems counter intuitive to sign a super star forward in the off season. In a vacuum, I can understand the logic behind it. But stepping back and looking at it from afar, it doesn’t make much sense. Every time that our beloved Hurricanes have been successful, it’s been while fielding a balanced roster. We’ve never really had a super star forward. In ’02 it was players like Kevyn and Kevin, Gelinas, and Wallin. No super star snipers in the Miracle at Molson. I mean, we had a legend and the hot scoring line with a catchy name, but where’s the super star? O’Neil? Kapanen? They aren’t Parise type game changers. In ’06 The closest thing we had to a super star was our leading scorer, Staal 45g, 55a (homegrown talent, whom we still employ). Every one else? 30 goal, role player types and a young goalie who stood on his head for 2 months. Even in ’09 Staal had 40 goals while most of the other top forwards produced between 15-25 a piece. So, historically, the recipe for our success has been 2-3 top tier forwards (Skinner, Staal, Jokinen) and a bunch of 20-30 goal scorers. It’s only logical to seek more of these guys in free agency, at least if history is any indicator. While I do see a need for a top tier winger for Staal, I don’t think we should over pay for it or make ourselves too top heavy. Parise will surely net close to $8.0MM annually. Why put all of that into one basket when there are so many holes in this roster? Since the lines are nowhere near set in stone at this point in the off season, I put them in a semi-logical order, it’s neither here nor there as it’s more of a visual representation of the suck that is our roster.
Jokinen – Staal – Tlusty
Skinner – Sutter – Ruutu
Nodl – Welsh – LaRose
Joslin – Brent – Stewart
How does the signing of one player make THAT mess any better? Joslin is a defensemen, Stewart is dead weight, who the hell is Jeremy Welsh, Tlusty is still unproven, and according to my hockey almanac, We’re due for another stinker from LaRose. But, fear not Kiddies. Uncle Foxy doesn’t just shed light on problems and leave you to sort them out all by your lonesome! I have all the answers. Gather ’round!
First off, getting that “big ticket signing” idea out of your head is going to make this a bit easier. Singing “Electric Avenue” to myself usually does a good job of cleansing my mental pallet. Give it a try! ………Alright. We good? Let’s do this then! For not much more than one of these heavyweight players would cost, we could address a multitude of issues. Let’s take a look at some other free agents that have a significantly lower price tag that would surely improve our anemic offensive stats from last year.
Jiri Hudler – LW – Jiri is coming off of one of his most successful seasons in Detroit. He netted 50 points and was a +10 on the year. He is a leader on the ice, provides an instant upgrade to the PP, and he doesn’t hesitate to get in the dirty areas to score. This net presence might draw enough attention away from Staal to give him the time for sweet wraparound attempts. Size is a bit of a knock, but we’ve never been a hulking team, so perhaps he’d fit right in. Odds are, the check for this Czech (see what I did there?) would be around $3.5MM/season.
PA Parenteau – RW – After years of languishing in the minors, Pierre- Alexandre has finally seemed to make his presence felt in the NHL. While he had career numbers last season (67 points -8) doubters will attribute his offensive outburst to him playing on a line with Tavares and Moulson. No worries, we’ll put him on a line with Skins and Juice. Good enough? At 6’0″ 200 lbs, He’s not huge, but he does add some much needed bulk to the forward position. Cost? An easy $3.3MM.
Ray Whitney – LW – Everybody loves Raymond! With JR’s knack for reacquiring previous team members, this should be an easy signing at $3.0MM. We already know what Ray Ray brings to the table. His 77 points and +26 add offensive depth that we haven’t had since…….well, since Whitney was here! He’s probably only going to get a one year contract, which fits in pretty good with the Canes long term plans of promoting from within. This just gives the Rats another year to develop.
So now, with the (hypothetical) addition of these new players, let’s have some fun with offensive lines! Alot of the guys listed below are capable of playing multiple positions, so you also gain a ton of flexibility as far as line combinations. This would be my ideal line up.
Hudler – Staal – Ruutu
Jokinen – Skinner – Parenteau
Whitney – Sutter - Tlusty
Nodl – Brent – LaRose
Problems solved (at least on offense)! And all for the low, low price of roughly $10MM/year. So, there you go! Step away from the ledge Mr. Karmanos, you’ll still be $14MM under the proposed cap, plenty of money left for your afternoon swim. Think you have a better plan? You have $10MM of PK’s money to upgrade the offense. Make it happen!