'Canes Hit The Panic Button
The 'Canes have been looking to upgrade their defense since Frantisek Kaberle was sidelined with an injury, and they "upgraded" today, at least at the NHL level. They added young defenseman Tim Gleason, along with two-way forward Eric Belanger. To acquire these bodies, they gave up all offense, no defense defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky...and top prospect Jack Johnson.
Johnson, picked 3rd overall in 2004, had frustrated the 'Canes brass by twice refusing to turn pro, first at the beginning of the playoffs this spring, and most recently, prior to training camp. On the ice, he has given every indication that he deserved to be a top pick. He posted 32 points in 38 games at the University of Michigan last season, his Freshman year, and about the only bad thing you can say about his play at the World Juniors this year was that he was outclassed by fellow American blueline Erik Johnson. Just three days ago, Hockey's Future ranked him as the 4th top prospect in the game, behind only Evgeni Malkin, Kari Lehtonen, and the aforementioned Erik Johnson.
Meanwhile, the 'Canes get to plug Tim Gleason into their lineup. A first round draft pick in 2001, Gleason has performed well, and is a career +1 in 125 games. It's worth noting that he also has less than 30 points in those games, so his upside is probably as a Glen Wesley-type defensive defenseman. Good, but not great. Was it worth giving a potential franchise defenseman for? I don't think so.
Thumbs way up for Dean Lombardi's work on this one. Slowly but surely, he will get the Kings back on track.
As for the work of Jim Rutherford and the 'Canes, this trade basically amounts to dumping $5 million in salary over the next two years, and giving up a potential franchise defenseman in exchange for a young #3-4 defenseman, and a depth forward who you could have probably had for a 4th round pick once the season starts. Bravo. They might want to hold off on planning the Stanley Cup parade in Raleigh.