GM working on defensive change
Luke DeCock, Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, OHIO - By trading their seventh-round pick for goalie Michael Leighton, the Carolina Hurricanes emerged from the NHL draft having made one trade.
While a spurious trade rumor got everyone's attention, the Canes may only be days away from another deal.
During Saturday's second day of the draft, talk flooded the draft floor that the Canes were working on a three-way deal that would send Erik Cole to the Edmonton Oilers and bring defenseman Joni Pitkanen to Carolina from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Turns out the Canes were working on a trade, but not that one.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford denied Cole was in play -- "wasn't, hasn't been, no," Rutherford said -- and Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe said Cole's name had not come up, joking that if Cole was available, he'd pick up the phone.
Rutherford did openly admit he was looking for a defenseman -- and close to a deal.
"We've got something going on right now," Rutherford said. "It's kind of a time-frame thing whether it's going to happen or not. We're working on maybe changing up the mix of our defense. That might be a possibility."
That deal didn't happen Saturday, but Rutherford confirmed it might not be far away. There certainly will be a number of deals around the league before the free-agent period opens July 1, and the Canes could be part of that activity.
"If something was going to happen in a trade such as what I was suggesting we're working on, it would probably happen in the next few days," he said.
Meanwhile, the draft passed without any interest in Anton Babchuk, whom the Canes were dangling for a second-round pick. The Canes gave Babchuk a qualifying offer to retain his rights, but he has signed with a Russian team and now likely will play there instead.