Hurricanes

NHL analyst Ward expects big things from Canes

Posted September 27, 2011
Updated September 28, 2011

The Carolina Hurricanes travel to Winnipeg Wednesday for an 8:30 p.m. preseason match-up with the Jets.

The Canes head into the game with a 1-2 preseason record and the management looking to make the last cuts before opening night Oct. 7 at the RBC Center.

Three-time Stanley Cup champion and former Hurricane Aaron Ward joined Adam and Joe Wednesday on 99.9 FM The Fan and said, despite the losing preseason record, the team is in a good position heading into the season.

“The best thing for a general manager to have is competition at a position, especially if it is someone you just drafted,” Ward said of the Canes depth on defense relative to top draft pick Ryan Murphy. “Murphy particularly has been getting a lot of attention, and they are talking about how this guy has the potential to make the team.”

Jim Rutherford, Hurricanes president and general manager, has been clear about his expectations this year, and that is for the team to make a run for it.

“That sends a message to the players,” said Ward, “There is always a chance to make an impact on a team where there is a need.”

Ward said it’s about finding the right pairings on the ice.

One spot that will have to be filled is that of Erik Cole who signed with Montreal during the offseason.

“There’s talk about [Zac] Dalpe. When you lose a component, there’s an opportunity for a young guy to seize it. As I understand it, Dalpe’s giving them an opportunity to maybe move Skinner to another line,” said Ward. “How do you get past the loss of Erik Cole? That’s yet to be seen.”

Ward said the true test will be how the players adapt to regular season play. And he said even players who aren’t fighting for a spot have an opportunity to really succeed this year.

“I think there’s a changing of the guard going on right now. [Cam Ward]’s always been an upper tier goalie, but I think some of the perennial goalies are possibly moving on maybe this year or next, it’s another opportunity for Cam to be that guy this year,” said Ward.

"The good thing for Cam is he is familiar with his environment and he doesn’t have to learn a lot.”

Ward also expects a lot out of another longtime Hurricane, captain Eric Staal.

“He’s dedicated himself a little more in the offseason to his preparation. The sky’s the limit for him,” said Ward.

“Maybe he’s more comfortable in his skin, and he’s got a full year of being a captain behind him. It’s tough sometimes for a young guy to say not only do I have to focus on my game, lead this team in points, lead this team in performance, but I also have to comfortable with the fact that I have young guys around me and the responsibility falls on me to make sure they’re prepared. This season should be a good test, but I expect a lot more from Eric Staal.”

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  • ktstcanes Sep 29, 9:08 p.m.

    "As an 18-year-old, Murphy cannot play in the American Hockey Leauge; he can either stay with the Canes for the season or be sent back to Kitchner, a decision that will be have to made before he plays 10 games with Carolina. With seven signed defenseman already on the roster, there’s a good chance we will see Murphy returned to Juniors."

  • taylorcaniac Sep 28, 9:27 p.m.

    taylorcaniac and caniac nc, you both are WRONG, per the AHL website the minimum age is 18 not... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    That is for players from European leagues coming over to play. Recall the Skinner situation from last year. He could've either stayed with the 'Canes or been sent back to Kitchener. It's the same this time around (even involving same minor league team).

    As an example of someone who IS eligible, there's guys like Victor Rask. He's 18 and since he played in Euro league, he's able to play in Charlotte (though I don't know for sure if that is the plan).

    In the end, I see Murphy getting his 9 game tryout (1 short of 10 to avoid contract year kicking in) and then being sent to Kitchener.

  • ktstcanes Sep 28, 9:02 p.m.

    Sorry, I meant Jordan Staal.

  • ktstcanes Sep 28, 9:00 p.m.

    To C-man. Jared Staal was in this same situation a few years ago. If he plays 10 games in the NHL, then his contract kicks in. He also had signed his contract with the Pens. The Pens had to make the choice at game 9 whether to keep him or send him back to his junior team.. Don't know the rules, but I recall this being the case.

  • caniacman Sep 28, 3:28 p.m.

    taylorcaniac and caniac nc, you both are WRONG, per the AHL website the minimum age is 18 not 19! He can play in Charlotte. Usually sending back to juniors is for those that have not signed their entry level contract which Murphy has done. Now yes they could send him back to juniors and not start the entry level contract, but I do not see them doing that. Getting a year at the AHL and being available for a call up with Faulk is probably what they are looking at. If they wanted to send him back to juniors there would be no rush to sign a deal.

  • Cragsdale Sep 28, 2:52 p.m.

    I will however be tailgating on teh 7th :) if many of you all will be going or anyone wants to meet, be a great opportunity at this game. I know a lot of us have our college disputes but most of us have always agreed upon our support for the Canes :)

    Looking forward to a great season :)

  • Cragsdale Sep 28, 2:50 p.m.

    jgunn, I have always had mixed feelings about Cole. When he was hot, he was great, but in my mind, he was seldom hot which meant he was just dead weight around the ice most of his shifts. He did have flashes of grandness, but I dunno, I still can't say I am unhappy he left, not happy.

  • StunGunn Sep 28, 2:35 p.m.

    Hate that Arron left, good player.

    — Posted by Cragsdale

    I HATE that too. At least his name is on The Cup.

    Time will tell how this year goes. There is some good young talent battling for a roster spot. I still wish Cole was on the team, but oh well...

  • CaniacNC Sep 28, 1:55 p.m.

    Murphy can not go back to juniors. He signed his nhl deal so he is either in Charlotte or... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    Murphy can play 9 games and then be sent back to Kitchener. As taylorcaniac said.. he is too young to play at the AHL (must be 19).

  • taylorcaniac Sep 28, 1:41 p.m.

    Murphy can not go back to juniors. He signed his nhl deal so he is either in Charlotte or... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    Actually, due to his age, Murphy is not eligible to play in the AHL. It's the same situation we had with Skinner last year. Either he stays up with the 'Canes, or he heads back to junior for the year. Signing the contract doesn't bind him to the NHL level either, as returning to juniors merely delays the start of the contract duration.

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