The summer is winding down and hockey is around the corner. It has been an eventful off-season full of rumors, signings, and re-signings for the Carolina Hurricanes. But the elephant on defense is still in the room as we approach mid-August.
Remember Brett Pesce?
The 28-year-old defenseman is entering the final year of his contract, making $4,025,000 against the salary cap. The talk of the spring was the contract negotiations with Pesce’s party and general manager, Don Waddell.
Negotiations seemed to have hit a snag and then came all the rumors for shipping Pesce out and bringing in a new arsenal of defensemen.
Although the Canes did not acquire Erik Karlsson, they did bring back Tony DeAngelo, who happens to be a top 4 right-handed defenseman like Pesce.
Before DeAngelo would play with Jaccob Slavin but Slavin has a new partner in Brent Burns and the Canes have not only Pesce but Jalen Chatfield and Dylan Coghlin on the right side.
Surely the front office cannot enter the training camp with all of these defensemen in the room, can they? If they did, who would be the odd man out in the lineup?
Pesce had a career year last season, producing 30 points for the first time with 25 assists. His steady play showed on both ends of the ice with a plus 11.
On a poor Philadelphia team, DeAngelo had a solid 42-point season with 11 goals. The importance for him on this squad is his power play performance, having had at least 19 power play points the last three seasons played.
Right-handed free agent defenseman, Matt Dumba, recently signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Coyote. No offense to the desert dogs but I do not believe that Dumba would have signed with Arizona in August if other teams were calling.
This may indeed mean that Pesce and DeAngelo are on the roster in training camp and Waddell could roll the dice and hope that another team develops a need for Pesce.
As distracting as that could be, it would also be unfair to Chatfield to mess with his training camp after having a career season. The youngster from Michigan will also need the camp to get accustomed to a new defense partner.
These are all things a team with Stanley Cup aspirations would like to avoid heading into the season. It would sure make great television for an NHL version of “hard knocks”.
Nonetheless, it would behoove the players and the team if Waddell could find a landing space for Pesce before the players have to report to Raleigh. DeAngelo has a history of issues but surely he did not sign to be a healthy scratch.
The writing has been on the wall for a Pesce exit, whether you like it or not. This is the “business” side of the sport as they say.