Feb 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison (44) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Jay Harrison Conundrum

Here we stand in the midst of this year’s development camp highlighted by our most recent first round pick, Haydn Fleury.  It should be a time to focus on the youth that will reinvigorate the Hurricanes in years to come.  It should also be a time to learn about the new coaching staff, outside of Rod Brind’Amour.  They are taking the ice for the first official time for this camp.  But here I stand, still wondering if the Canes will make any more changes to the more experienced roster going forward.  I believe I speak for many Canes fans when I say that it might be time for longtime Cane Jay Harrison to take a step back from the starting defensive lines.

I would hope that another free agent signing could be in the works, but I just don’t see it.  Michael Del Zotto, a defenseman formerly of the Nashville Predators and New York Rangers, is still on the market.  He is willing to take a moderate pay cut because, well, he has to at this point.  His play level dropped once he reached Nashville, but he still shows enough promise to play in the top 6, even top 4, of a NHL club.  I would prefer that club be the Hurricanes given our need for enhanced defense, but again, budget restraints and player loyalty take precedence most of the time.  And don’t even get me started on Chad LaRose.

Jay Harrison has logged 5205 minutes on the ice as a Cane, per Hockey-Reference, and has been a fan-favorite due to his past consistency, demeanor, and family-oriented lifestyle.  Unfortunately for him, that consistency dipped last year to the point where he was labeled as consistently mediocre.  Ahh mediocrity, something us Canes fans are ever so used to.  But I digress.  Harrison’s +/- was at a somewhat respectable -1 and he did score 15 points.  Not too shabby for a defenseman of his stature.  But it seemed that every time the opposing team scored a big goal that all but sealed a loss for the Canes, Jay Harrison was involved.  We all know he wasn’t involved in every single loss-sealing moment, but it was close.  He isn’t getting any younger or faster and his $1.5 million cap hit is too high for services rendered.  That money could’ve been used to bring in Del Zotto to round out a much more promising defensive corps.  Now we cannot use our compliance buyouts and Jay Harrison will be a Cane this year, barring any minor trades or a head-scratching release.  As a Canes fan, I can only hope that our violin-playing, family-oriented, big-man defenseman can either take a step back or score a few more breakaway goals this year like he did in 2011 against the Rangers.  We could have had, and technically could still have, Michael Del Zotto (but for some reason, the opportunity cost isn’t worth it, excuse the economics banter).  But most of all, it is Ryan Murphy’s time to shine.

Let’s have a productive Development Camp and let’s go Canes.

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Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Haydn Fleury Jay Harrison Michael Del Zotto Opinion

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