UFA Options: Carolina Hurricanes

Jonathan Willis
May 06 2009 06:49PM

Erik Cole

UFA Options is a continuing series that gives a brief run-down of the unrestricted free agent market this summer, team-by-team. Our next team for consideration is the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes have the NHL rights to seven unrestricted free agents. There’s a plethora of fourth-liners, but some players of significance including a veteran defenseman (Dennis Seidenberg) and the player Wanye picked to be the Oilers’ hero this season (pictured above).

Notes

  • Age is calculated based on how old the player will be during the 2009-10 season.
  • QualComp/QualTeam are the Quality of Competition/Teammates rankings from Behind the Net; the number appearing is each player’s ranking by position (forward/defense) on his own team.
  • Def/Off Faceoffs is a comparison of the total number of shifts starting in the defensive and offensive zones, courtesy of Vic Ferrari’s Time On Ice. A positive number indicates starting more in the defensive zone, a negative number the opposite.
  • All advanced statistics are courtesy of Behind the Net.

Erik Cole

Vital Stats: 31 years old, 6’2”, 205lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 4,000,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 80GP – 18G – 24A – 42PTS, EV 2008-09 Contextual: 8th QualComp, 1st QualTeam, -19 Def/Off Faceoffs 2008-09 Advanced Stats: +1.5 Corsi/60, 1.82 EVPTS/60, 2.56 GFON/60, 2.56 GAON/60

Edmonton fans saw Erik Cole during one of his worst stretches in recent memory; the only reason his season statistics are even respectable was because of a nearly point-per-game run to close out the season after being traded to Carolina. Cole has value when he isn’t scoring; he’s a big, versatile player who can PK and draws penalties as well as anyone in the league. I expect that he’ll re-sign with Carolina and keep putting up decent numbers in the Southeast, breaking Wanye’s heart little bits at a time.

Chad LaRose

Vital Stats: 27 years old, 5’10”, 181lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 875,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 81GP – 19G – 12A – 31PTS, +6 2008-09 Contextual: 7th QualComp, 9th QualTeam, -63 Def/Off Faceoffs 2008-09 Advanced Stats: +4.3 Corsi/60, 1.47 EVPTS/60, 2.32 GFON/60, 2.26 GAON/60

Larose had a nice year, especially from a goal-scoring perspective. The undrafted ex-ECHL’er is probably due for a modest raise. He’s undersized (the official Carolina website lists him at 5’10”, but other sites say 5’8”) and this is his breakout season offensively, so there is some question as to whether he can repeat this performance.

Ryan Bayda

Vital Stats:29 years old, 5’11”, 185lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 70GP – 5G – 7A – 12PTS, +2 2008-09 Contextual: 13th QualComp, 8th QualTeam, -23 Def/Off Faceoffs 2008-09 Advanced Stats: -4.1 Corsi/60, 1.26 EVPTS/60, 1.67 GFON/60, 1.57 GAON/60

Ryan Bayda had his first full NHL season this year, and while he doesn’t add high-end scoring he does play a physical game. He had a funny year with the percentages – low on-ice shooting percentage, and very high on-ice save percentage, so he probably isn’t as low-event as the numbers make him seen. A fairly generic fourth-liner at this point.

Dwight Helminen

Vital Stats:26 years old, 5’10”, 191lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 23GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS, -2 2008-09 Contextual: 14th QualComp, 13th QualTeam, -4 Def/Off Faceoffs 2008-09 Advanced Stats: -3.6 Corsi/60, 0.79 EVPTS/60, 1.98 GFON/60, 2.77 GAON/60

I was glad to see the Oilers draft pick return to North America; he had a decent season in the AHL and saw some NHL duty as well. Helminen turns 26 this summer and is one of the younger free agents out there; he may be of interest to any team looking for a reliable AHL veteran to play a reserve role. He does play a relatively well-rounded game.

Dan Lacouture

Vital Stats: 32 years old, 6’2”, 210 lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 11GP – 2G – 0A – 2PTS, -1 2008-09 Contextual: 1st QualComp, 3rd QualTeam 2008-09 Advanced Stats: -25.5 Corsi/60, 2.55 EVPTS/60, 2.55 GFON/60, 5.09 GAON/60

Dan Lacouture raised the ire of Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford when he defected to the KHL midway through the season:

“It doesn’t seem right when a guy signs a contract and then a month later decides to leave… If a player goes in the offseason, when he doesn’t have a contract, whether they go that way or they come this way, it seems to be fair… Can you really trust a player, what he’s going to do, when he does that? You lose credibility.”

When in North America, Lacouture’s another garden-variety fourth-liner who plays a physical game. I imagine his NHL/AHL options are limited at this point.

Michael Ryan

Vital Stats: 29 years old, 6’1”, 188 lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 18GP – 0G – 2A – 2PTS, -3 2008-09 Contextual: 15th QualComp, 14th QualTeam 2008-09 Advanced Stats: +15.6 Corsi/60, 0.84 EVPTS/60, 1.26 GFON/60, 2.52 GAON/60

Ryan had an excellent year in the AHL, scoring 25 goals in 40 games, but he got killed by the percentages at the NHL level, with a horrid on-ice save percentage and shooting percentage. He recorded 9 takeaways to only 2 giveaways, but trusting his NHL numbers would be foolish given that he played so few minutes. That said, as far as 4th-line fringe players go, Ryan’s definitely one worth checking out. Even if he doesn’t crack the NHL roster, he’s a goal-scorer in the AHL.

Dennis Seidenberg

Vital Stats: 28 years old, 6’1”, 210 lbs 2008-09 Cap Hit: 1,200,000 US$ 2008-09 Basic Stats: 70GP – 5G – 25A – 30PTS, -9 2008-09 Contextual: 3rd QualComp, 3rd QualTeam, +16 Def/Off Faceoffs 2008-09 Advanced Stats: -0.2 Corsi/60, 0.89 PTS/60, 2.10 GFON/60, 2.36GAON/60

Dennis Seidenberg is an excellent second-pairing option; he’s a reliable veteran with some puck-moving ability and he plays a relatively physical game and blocks shots (leading the Hurricanes in the latter category). Injuries are a concern; he’s suffered at least one concussion and has had multiple leg and groin injuries at the NHL level.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Brian O'Neill
May 06 2009, 08:17PM
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Erik Cole is a prime example of how much tighter it is in the western conference. I'd still take him in Vancouver. Probably not for 4mil however.

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#2 Chris
May 06 2009, 08:56PM
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@ Johnathan Willis:

I remember some buzz about Jussi Jokinen maybe being an option to play with Hemsky... Never really liked the player in the past; but he has been clutch so far this playoff. Since Jussi is an RFA player due for a raise, do you think he may become available if Carolina is able to resign Cole?

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#3 Chris
May 06 2009, 08:58PM
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@ Willis:

Oh... And would you want him? I'm kinda on the fence myself.

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#4 Jonathan Willis
May 06 2009, 10:11PM
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@ Chris:

Normally I would, but doesn't he just fit into that mold of player (Gagner, Cogliano, O'Sullivan, Nilsson) that the team is already full of?

I like the player, but he doesn't fill a need.

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#5 Brian O'Neill
May 06 2009, 11:17PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: @ Chris: Jussi would be a good choice for his shootout abilities alone. Those points add up.

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#6 Archaeologuy
May 06 2009, 11:28PM
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Somehow, I dont think Cole would be interested in signing with the Oil.

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#7 sittingatmydesk
May 07 2009, 08:21AM
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No one really of interest for the Oilers....

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#8 Jonathan Willis
May 07 2009, 08:34AM
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@ Brian O'Neill:

But Kotalik's already here.

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#9 Chris
May 07 2009, 08:41AM
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Brian O'Neill wrote:

Jussi would be a good choice for his shootout abilities alone. Those points add up

After Burke signs the Sedin's in Toronto, maybe Jussi will be good option for Vancouver.

*wink*

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#10 Bob Cob
May 07 2009, 09:12AM
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This I dont understand, you like Jokinen and would take him but the Oilers have too many guys like him and yet you wouldn't take a flier on Mike Cammalleri, a proven one shot 30-40 goal scorer who needs a pure passer like Hemsky and is just entering the prime off his career.

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#11 Quinn
May 07 2009, 09:50AM
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@ Bob Cob: But he is coming off the last year of his contract, and played on a pretty offensively minded team in Calgary, which I think made him look better than he is. I know alot of people want more goals from the Oil this year, but I would be much happier if they were a sounder defensive team, with three lines that can not only create chances, but limit them, and a fourth that can cause havoc when they are out there (hello, Zorg?)

@JW Over at the gospel of hockey it is suggested that a player that is a player should not be making less than $850,000 since a RFA offer at that level requires no compensation. I know this doesn't apply to Michael Ryan, but if Springfield needs some genuine scoring talent, perhaps he should be targeted with a larger contract and sent to shore up that beleaguered team.

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#12 misfit
May 07 2009, 09:59AM
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If I were king of the Oilers, I'd be looking at one of the Hurricanes' forwards on July 1st. That player being Erik Cole. I don't think he was as bad here as his point totals would suggest, and I also never really bought into the idea that he couldn't play LW. I really didn't think he was all that much better on the right side, but it was a convenient excuse for why he wasn't shooting the lights out and another reason for people to pile onto MacTavish.

His .01 QUALCOMP is good for 8th on the Hurricanes roster, but it would put him tied for 2nd among Oiler forwards. I still don't trust the QUALCOMP number itself enough to put much stock in it when you compare it conference to conference due to the unbalanced schedule.

I personally don't think he's as much of a goalscorer as his reputation would suggest, but the guy can be an effective player, and he does a lot of things that you like. He's got size, he's physical, skates like the wind, and always keeps his feet moving. If he were willing to return, I'd welcome him back in a heartbeat.

The other player that's interesting is Seidenberg, but I like our defense the way it is, and think we should try to keep them together if we can. He'd be a good replacement for Smid if we decided to move him (not sure why we would though), or Staios if he can play the right side. I'm not so sure he'd come cheaper than either, but he's a "young vetran" which is exactly what this team needs more of. Guys we can lean on right away, but will still be in their best years when the young core start to become difference makers.

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#13 Chris
May 07 2009, 11:00AM
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misfit wrote:

That player being Erik Cole

Cole will NEVER sign with Edmonton. It was reported that Cole couldn't "stop smiling" after being delt back to Carolina. I'm sorry I can't remember the source.

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#14 Jonathan Willis
May 07 2009, 11:06AM
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Bob Cob wrote:

This I dont understand, you like Jokinen and would take him but the Oilers have too many guys like him and yet you wouldn’t take a flier on Mike Cammalleri, a proven one shot 30-40 goal scorer who needs a pure passer like Hemsky and is just entering the prime off his career.

I like Cammalleri too; although he falls into the same boat as Jokinen.

The key difference between them is that I'm a bargain shopper. Jokinen's going to be cheap, Cammalleri's going to be very expensive.

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#15 David S
May 07 2009, 12:30PM
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Chris wrote:

Cole will NEVER sign with Edmonton. It was reported that Cole couldn’t “stop smiling” after being dealt back to Carolina. I’m sorry I can’t remember the source.

Cole was really starting to fit in toward the end of his stay here and I'd dearly love to see him back. But if you had the choice between playing with real NHL'ers and juniors brought up way too early, which would make you smile more? I mean, look who he's playing with now. His PPG performance after he got traded was a good indication of how important good linemates is (duh).

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#16 David S
May 07 2009, 12:32PM
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"how important having good linemates is...."

*cringe*

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#17 Oilersordeath
May 07 2009, 12:38PM
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Coles not exactly lighting it up with the canes either. I like Cammalleri but do we want another Hobbit on this team?

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#18 misfit
May 07 2009, 12:42PM
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@Chris:

I have a pretty hard time believing we'll have our pick of free agents anyway, not just in the case of Cole. But this has more to do with who I'd be interested in, not who'd be interested in becoming an Oiler. Obviously I don't know what Cole is interested in doing, but that doesn't mean you don't make the call to find out for sure.

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#19 #Swiss Oil Fan
May 07 2009, 01:26PM
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Jonathan, I really like your off-season UFA reports. Great stuff. What I would appreciate is some recommendation and/or thoughts of you if this or that player could be an option for the Oilers (and why and if we really have a chance to sign them...).

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#20 Jonathan Willis
May 07 2009, 03:27PM
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#Swiss Oil Fan wrote:

Jonathan, I really like your off-season UFA reports. Great stuff. What I would appreciate is some recommendation and/or thoughts of you if this or that player could be an option for the Oilers (and why and if we really have a chance to sign them…).

Once I've gone through all thirty teams I plan to do a very detailed bit on the moves I'd make as a GM. I've tried to keep this segment as general as possible since it's also for the Calgary and Vancouver sites.

That said, for the Oilers I'm looking at a depth defenseman, a third line centre, and a top-six forward.

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#21 David S
May 07 2009, 06:35PM
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All thirty teams??? Awwwww man!

*Walks away with head down, hands in pockets, kicking loose stones on the road.*

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#22 Chris
May 07 2009, 07:26PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That said, for the Oilers I’m looking at a depth defenseman, a third line centre, and a top-six forward

...AND a goalie.

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#23 Jolene L Fendelet
May 07 2009, 11:43PM
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I would love to see cole back as a oiler he never should of left so thats my hope for july to get cole back.

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