Decisions on Defense for Canes

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes
Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Last summer the Carolina Hurricanes focused on using their salary cap space to strengthen the depth of this roster. The defensive unit was a big story in the off-season with the acquisitions of Dmitri Orlov and Tony DeAngelo. The team kept the top four defensemen in Jaccob Slavin, Brent Burns, Brett Pesce, and Brady Skjei.

Now in the second half of the season with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the defensive unit needs to be secured. Pesce, DeAngelo, Skjei, and Chatfield are all in the final year of their contracts. That leaves an aging Burns Orlov, and Slavin under contract for the next season.

The win-now approach is never bad for a fan base but it is clear that the NHL has teams that are not only on the same level as the Canes but stronger and deeper. The Canes sit in second place in the Metro Division to date. It is time to start figuring out the players that will be here beyond March 8th and beyond the spring.

DeAngelo has been the odd man out on defense ever since Chatfield has settled in as part of a defensive pairing with Orlov. It would appear that Chatfield is in the plans for the future but obviously will be expecting quite a raise this summer. DeAngelo has shown that he can produce offensively from the blue line in his minimal playing time.

Pesce joins DeAngelo and Chatfield as the right-handed defensemen available for two starting spots in the lineup. Pesce and Don Waddell were unable to hammer out a contract extension last year and it was a surprise to some to see Pesce return to camp last fall.

Waddell seemed to take a hard stand with Pesce leading up to the summer regarding an extension or being traded. Pesce has not had a strong season and will command a high salary on the open market. Is he truly a part of the plans in Raleigh?

Judging from the playing time this season for DeAngelo, one would think that he is not in the cards for the future. In that case, it is time to put him on display to sell at the deadline. If he is being blocked by Pesce then look to move Pesce at the deadline for assets. With options in the system like Dylan Coghlan, the team can afford to trade a defenseman.

The one player that everyone seems to agree on for being in the plans is Skjei. This guy plays huge minutes and can contribute on special teams, while putting the puck in the net at a good rate for a defenseman. His skating ability and quick passing allow him to age well for a big contract. It is safe to say he won't be traded at the deadline.

The scenarios are endless for this group and it cannot be easy for Rod Brind'Amour to manage the playing time. It would provide some relief in the locker room to decide by March 8th and either deal with a player or sign an extension.

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