June 20, 2012
Hurricanes ready to dangle No. 8 pick
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Carolina Hurricanes have missed the playoffs five of the past six seasons since winning the Stanley Cup, a bad situation that Jim Rutherford hopes to change this week through the draft or via trade.
The general manager told the Raleigh News and Observer he fully intends to get someone proven to play with star Eric Staal, with the eighth overall pick in play. With only the top-10 selections in Friday’s first round getting decent reviews, it’s a good pick to dangle.
“We’ve done a lot of work in trying to get another real good forward to play with Eric,” Rutherford told the paper. “I’d prefer not to (trade). If the right player is available and the right deal, we would do it.”
Carolina is in the Rick Nash hunt, courting Columbus for its star forward.
“My read on it is, there will be (league-wide) trades Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,” Rutherford said. “Whether we’re going to be one of the teams and get in on those early trades or not, we’re trying to.”
If Pittsburgh is really thinking of giving up Jordan Staal, a family reunion could be in the works, too.
But Rutherford can’t complain about the calibre of his top 10 picks of late, Jeff Skinner (7), Jack Johnson (3), Andrew Ladd (4) and Eric Staal (2).
BACK OF THE BUS, BRUINS
As the Boston Globe put it, “the gift that keeps on giving will cease providing its fountain of riches.”
The paper was referring to last spring’s completion of terms of the Phil Kessel trade, which netted the Bruins Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight in picks from Toronto in the course of two drafts.
Boston will be choosing 24th on Friday, its lowest position since taking centre Joe Colborne 16th in 2008, a player who found his way to Toronto in the Tomas Kaberle trade.
If you can believe it, the Bruins might be poised to choose Henrik Samuelsson, son of Ulf, who gained notoriety for hastening the end of Cam Neely’s playing career 20 years ago by targeting his knee. Neely is now team president. Henrik is a 6-foot-2 right winger, born in Pittsburgh, projected late first round.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told the Boston Globe that he’s keeping an eye on the Nash discussions between Columbus and a number of suitors.
“(Trade talk) ramps up right now because the draft picks available on Friday and Saturday,” he said. “Specifically to this year, it’s a function of a shallow pool of free agents. You’ve got teams that may not delve into free agency that are trying to be proactive. They’re trying to acquire guys prior to free agency, because when the pool is shallow, prices get pretty high.”
WHEN DRAFT MEANT BEER
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette caught up with Gary Monahan, first pick in the first ever NHL draft in 1963. The Montreal Canadiens called the 16-year-old St. Michael’s College Jr. B star at home to tell him the momentous news.
“I don’t remember any talk of any draft,” recalled Monahan, now a 65-year-old real estate agent in B.C. “When they phoned me and said they had drafted me, I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. It had to be explained to me.”
WILD FOR JOSH
Another B-list goalie was removed from the July 1 shopping aisle Tuesday when Josh Harding signed for three more years with the Minnesota Wild at $5.7 million US. Harding told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he was uneasy about his prospects on the open market with many clubs looking for a clear-cut starter.
“I didn’t want to be in a different spot when all the chairs are gone and the music stops,” Harding said.
It’s unlikely the Wild are moving 34-year-old incumbent Niklas Backstrom.
DRAFT DOT DOT DOTS
The St. Louis Blues are looking at a new defence partner for Alex Pietrangelo, but acknowledge getting one in the draft will be tough. Pietrangelo was fourth overall in 2008 and is just hitting stride, while St. Louis picks 25th on Friday ... Holding 11 picks heading into the weekend, Washington GM George McPhee say he hopes to use them all. As for this draft crop being soft, what else would someone in McPhee’s position say except “this draft, I think, is stronger than last year’s.” ... Good point made by Red Wings reporter Ansar Khan. Would soon-to-be NCAA free agent defenceman Justin Schultz pass on an established team such as Detroit with its preference to make newcomers earn their NHL spot in the minors, for a team that would virtually hand him a job this year? Most think Schultz had made up his mind to leave Anaheim and is just waiting for the market bell.