The story this season in Hotlanta will be 'Will He Stay or Will He Go?' Entering Ilya's final contract year, this will be debated all season long until he either re-signs, or gets dealt at the deadline because he won't re-sign. The fact that he hasn't signed before the season starts means that he is gone, but Kovy apparently likes in Atlanta. I really don't understand how Don Waddell keeps his job, this man must be asleep at the switch. This is a contract offer that must be made before the puck drops, and it must be made lucrative enough for him to stay on a crappy team that's poorly managed. Picked up Antropov to center Kovy for 4years at $16million (too much) and traded for Kubina sending young defensive stud Garnet Exelby to Toronto, (that will be lopsided in a short while). Donny re-signed Lehtonen and Thorburn because he doesn't have any choice. I don't know what to tell you folks down there, a part of me wants Kovalchuk to stay and be built around but its not happening. The other part of me wants a talent like him to be some where he can shine, and you tear down that team and either start over, or give up. I hate saying it, but that's what I think.
Regular Season Finish: 15th in East, 5th in Southeast
The Canes always seem to make something happen while no one is watching, kinda like the Eastern Conference's version of the Preds. Already with one of those aformentioned Cups in a 12year history in Raleigh, Rutherford seems to have some kind of magic touch, and I'm not talking about with referees. He managed to keep Cam Ward on signing him to a 6year ($6.3million avg.), that's the big news of the day for Carolina fans. Great move considering Cam doesn't garner as much attention as some other stoppers and yet has a Cup, a Conn, and backstopped two seasons to Conference Finals. But in the offseason they picked up D-man Andrew Alberts from Philly and forward Tom Kostopoulos from Montreal, and kept Chad LaRose and Erik Cole. The Hurricanes also brought back Aaron Ward from Boston in a trade for Patrick Eaves and a pick. Defenseman Seidenberg and Babchuk were asking for too much I think so Jimmy told them to take a hike, and didn't want forward Ryan Badya. I don't see anything much different from last year as far as offseason moves, another bubble team but I think they'll miss out on the dance this season.
Offseason Grade: B, Cam Ward's extention moves this grade up from a lateral C.
Regular Season Finish: 9th in the East, 2nd in the Southeast
Offseason Grade: C, if losing Bouwmeester was inevitable, not convinced it was.
Regular Season Finish: 13th in Conference, 4th in Division
Offseason Grade: C, they brought on better than they let go.
Regular Season Finish: 11th in East, 3rd in Southeast
Offseason Grade: C, Didn't address their real need.
Regular Season Finish: 4th in the East, 1st in the Southeast