Canes search for top-tier player acquisition

calexander@newsobserver.com June 19, 2012 

The Carolina Hurricanes would like to make a trade this week, and hopefully do it without giving up any of their core players.

“We’re trying,” general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday.

Will the Canes be able to pull off a trade that will bring in a top-tier player?

“I really don’t have a good read on it,” Rutherford said. “It’s not like a trade in the middle of the year where there are only a couple of teams trying. There are a lot of teams trying to make changes, so it’s hard to read when anything can happen.

“I do know we’re trying as hard as we ever have at this point to be involved in acquiring a top player.”

At season’s end, Rutherford talked of the Canes having the financial resources to pursue high-end, high-priced free agents – primarily a scoring winger to play on Eric Staal’s line. Many assumed he was talking about someone such as forward Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils, although Rutherford mentioned no names.

But the bidding for such players and possible structuring of their contracts – offering to frontload huge salaries – may preclude the Canes from being involved. Case in point: Brad Richards signed a nine-year free-agent deal with the New York Rangers a year ago that has a $6.7 million annual cap hit but paid him $12 million each of the first two years.

“I’ve felt all along we might have to go the trade route to improve our team,” Rutherford said. “We’re in the mix in a lot of conversations.”

Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets is the big name mentioned the most in recent weeks, and the Canes appear to be one of the teams with serious interest in trading for the All-Star forward, former Canadian Olympian and Blue Jackets captain.

What would the Canes be willing to give up for Nash? Likely their first-round pick – No. 8 overall – in this week’s NHL Entry Draft, some roster players and some of their top prospects. But Carolina apparently is not willing to make such players as Staal, Jeff Skinner, Cam Ward, Brandon Sutter or Justin Faulk a part of any trade.

“We will get involved in free agency,” Rutherford said. “But it appears the best chance we have to improve our team will be through trades.”

SIGNED: The Canes have signed broadcasters John Forslund, Chuck Kaiton and Tripp Tracy to new multiyear contracts.

“They’re the people and voices our fans have become accustomed to, and that a lot of our younger fans have grown up listening to,” Rutherford added. “They’re very valuable to our organization. We feel we have the top broadcasting team in the league.”

Next season will be Forslund’s 18th as the team’s television play-by-play voice, and his 22nd season with the organization. Tracy will join Forslund as TV color analyst for the 14th season.

Kaiton will continue at the franchise’s only radio play-by-play man since it entered the NHL in 1979.

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