It wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Carolina Hurricanes, who spent most of the year in the Eastern Conference cellar and who ended the year just six points out of last place in the conference despite an impressive late season charge. There were a few different problems, but one of them was the lack of puck-moving defenceman.
Aside from Joni Pitkanen, the Canes employed few reliable offensive players on their blue line. They have a few promising rookies: 2006 second round pick Jamie McBain and undrafted 26 year-old Bryan Rodney have shown they can put up points in both the AHL and NHL, but neither is a proven option at this point time. Mcbain is still on his entry-level deal, while CapGeek.com lists Rodney as an RFA. It wouldn’t hurt to have another player who can fill the role in case the oft-injured Pitkanen misses more time or the rookies fail to pan out next season.
As a result, it isn’t surprising to hear that the Hurricanes are talking with prodigal defenceman Anton Babchuk again, with general manager Jim Rutherford saying that he’s “very comfortable” Babchuk will join the team sometime after July 1. Babchuk is still only 26 years old, and when he last played in the NHL in 2008-09 he led the Hurricanes blue line with 16 goals. A disappointing playoffs and subsequent disagreement on salary led to his exit to the Kontinental Hockey League, but he appears ready to return to the NHL and Carolina seems to want him back.