Canes at the trade deadline -- My 2 cents
First, the backdrop:
1) GM Jim Rutherford has been much more likely to make quiet deals, many of them very good, the others very inexpensive even if they did not work. The only year that he entered the bidding wars was 05-06 when he picked up Doug Weight and Mark Recchi. The Canes were very good that year even without those guys, and Rutherford correctly thought that he had a team with a good chance to win it all. But otherwise, he has mostly made low-risk, ho-hum kind of deals at the deadline many turning out very good. Last year, he picked up Samsonov off waivers which worked out incredibly well for the (free) price. He did surprise with the Andrew Ladd for Tuomo Ruutu trade but that was not the usual deadline trade of trading a bunch of futures for a rental.
2) The Canes really do need to make the playoffs. They have been minus the playoffs for 2 years. The team can use the extra money to get around or above the break even level, and the fans can use it after a couple frustrating seasons following the Stanley Cup year.
So we enter trade deadline week in the NHL with these 2 conflicting things pulling at GM Jim Rutherford.
My 2 cents says the following:
1) The Canes are neither a pure buyer or a pure seller. Rutherford does not get into any of the expensive bidding wars, but he does not wildly shake things up either.
2) The team's problem is inconsistency especially from its best players not a gaping, specific hole that a trade could easily fix, so going wild at the trade deadline might not help anyway.
3) The buyer part of Rutherford resorts to his true deadline personality of making a small, low-risk deal or 2 to improve the team.
4) The seller part of Rutherford at least considers trading depth defense if he can get a decent future for Dennis Seidenberg and/or can unload Frantisek Kaberle at all (even just vianother waivers try). If you look forward to 09-10, the core of Gleason, Pitkanen, and Corvo are all under contract as is Wallin. The team will want Babchuk resigned. That makes 5. Borer, Carson and Rodney have all looked decent in 08-09, so the team should go younger and cheaper for the 5-7 spots. While Seidenberg and Kaberle are playing right now, they are replaceable and likely not part of the next year plans.
So I say it goes down like this:
1) Nothing shocks us.
2) Kaberle takes another round on waivers for anyone that wants him for half price (for this year and next). I put it at 50/50 that someone takes him. The cost to acquire him is free, the salary this year is irrelevant, but the real cost is keeping and paying him next year if you really just wanted a rental. You could also see a trade where the Canes take on someone else's problem contract at about the same price and another team takes on Kaberle and his.
3) Seidenberg could go for a pick or prospect. He is a good depth defense pickup for a team looking to add depth on the blue line for a long playoff run. His contract is up at the end of the season, so he is a rental, is a veteran and is playing decent hockey this season.
4) Maybe the Canes add a low-cost, rental type of forward - think Anson Carter.
I still think there is an outside chance that the Canes get Erik Cole back, but I do not think Rutherford will win any significant bidding war to get him knowing that he may not be able to resign him this summer. Instead, the Canes could sneak in if the high bidders get caught up chasing bigger fish and Edmonton has to look below them.
So with that, I certainly set myself up to be wildly surprised when GM Jim Rutherford pulls something bigger out of thin air over the next couple days. If nothing else, it is definitely an interesting week to be an NHL fan and a time when it is fun to check into the NHL news a few times a day and even more on Wednesday.