'Old' Canes get look at newcomers

There are plenty of new faces present for the first day of informal preseason workouts.

Staff writerAugust 24, 2010 

— Being a newcomer to the Carolina Hurricanes, Jon Matsumoto wanted to get an early start Monday at the RecZone.

How early?

"About 7:20 a.m.," he said, smiling. "It's almost like your first day of school. You're kind of nervous to meet all the guys."

No need for introductions at that time, though. Matsumoto said he was the first player to show up for the first day of informal preseason workouts.

But Matsumoto, a center who was obtained in a late-June trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, soon had a lot of company.

Some 15 players were on the ice for the 10 a.m. workout, including starting goaltender Cam Ward and backup goalie Justin Peters.

It was an unusually large first-day turnout and was a mix of young and old -- although in the Canes' case "old" now is a relative term. There were veterans such as Erik Cole, Chad LaRose, Sergei Samsonov and Joe Corvo, and fresher faces such as Jamie McBain, Brett Carson, Bryan Rodney and Zac Dalpe.

Forward Jiri Tlusty was at the RecZone but will not skate for a few more weeks. Tlusty, who spent the offseason at home in the Czech Republic, still is recovering from a tear of an anterior cruciate ligament in last year's American Hockey League playoffs.

Nor was Matsumoto the only new guy in the room. The Canes, on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft, traded for defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti in a deal with the New York Rangers.

"It's really exciting," Sanguinetti said. "It's a new atmosphere, a new start, and all the guys have been great.

"It's a good organization to come to, one that's building from within with some young guys. Hopefully it's a good opportunity."

Sanguinetti, 22, was the Rangers' first-round pick - the 21st overall selection - in the 2006 NHL draft. In 61 games last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, he had nine goals and 29 assists, showing off his offensive skills and earning a call-up to the big club.

But Sanguinetti played just five games for the Rangers - not much of an NHL debut. Then he was traded.

"I don't know what goes on with the management and stuff," he said. "I just kind of stuck to my game. Obviously there are things you need to work on and develop. I think this summer I put on a little weight, and I'll try to carry it and be a little more physical.

"As far as what happened in New York, I'm just going to put that in the past and look forward to the future here."

Asked if he felt the Rangers gave up on him, Sanguinetti said, "They have their guys they want to go with and it kind of left me out, and there's where it ended, I guess."

Given the Hurricanes' somewhat unsettled blue line, Sanguinetti has a chance to be among the top six. Corvo, Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen are fixtures on the back end, and management is high on McBain, but the last two spots could be up for grabs.

"It should be a good battle for a couple of spots," Sanguinetti said.

There also is an open spot at center. Matsumoto should be in that mix, as will Dalpe, Pat Dwyer, first-round draft pick Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash.

Matsumoto, 23, led the Adirondack Phantoms with 30 goals and added 32 assists last season. The year before, the 6-foot, 184-pound forward had 29 goals for the Phantoms, the Flyers' AHL affiliate.

"I thought I had a couple of decent years there," he said. "I didn't get anything much to show for it in terms of NHL game time, so this is kind of a nice change."

A hectic summer made Matsumoto feel like something of a "nomad," he said. He just hopes he's finally found a home.

"It was nice walking in here today," he said after the RecZone workout. "You can see they really want to win. They have good tradition here, and it's nice to be a part of."

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

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