RALEIGH Vultures have begun circling around the Colorado Avalanche, who are currently at the bottom of the NHL standings and could be in line for a total overhaul despite a young, talented core of players.That has led to speculation captain Gabriel Landeskog or center Matt Duchene the second overall pick in 2011 and third overall selection in 2009, respectively could be on the block for young defensive help.If there’s anything the Carolina Hurricanes have in spades, it’s young defenders. From NHLers Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin to prospects Jake Bean, Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown, the Hurricanes are stacked on the back end for the present and beyond.However since taking over as the Carolina Hurricanes’ general manager in April 2014, Ron Francis has yet to make a roster-shaping trade, instead opting to build via draft picks, by exploiting other teams’ cap troubles (see acquiring Teuvo Teravainen from Chicago last offseason) or taking chances on the NHL waiver wire.The latest attempt to find waiver gold came Wednesday when Francis claimed Blues 2011 second round pick Ty Rattie. Rattie was a dynamic scorer in the Western Hockey League as a junior player, averaging more than 1.3 points per game (347 points) in 259 regular season games, plus had 39 playoff goals in 42 games his final two seasons in the WHL.But as is often the case, Rattie’s production hasn’t transitioned to the NHL. He scored 31 goals in his first AHL season in 2013-14, but his total dropped to 21 two seasons ago and 17 last year, with his goals per game going from 0.43 to 0.36 to 0.27.In 30 NHL games in those three years, Rattie who will be 24 on Feb. 5 has managed just four goals and four assists. However those numbers might be as much about opportunity as ability. Rattie’s best NHL season was last year, but he played just 13 games with the Blues and registered four goals and two assists.But he never played more than 11:20 in a game last season, and the most ice time he received in a game with St. Louis was 12:01, with his 30-game average just cracking nine minutes a night.For a skill player, that’s probably not a fair shake.And Rattie certainly wasn’t on the track for improvement this year with just four games in the NHL and three in the AHL on a conditioning stint. He was a healthy scratch 31 times for the Blues, including in 15 straight games leading up to being waived and claimed by Carolina.Of course, this isn’t Francis’ first spin on the waiver wheel. In October he claimed defenseman Klas Dahlbeck (Arizona) and forward Martin Frk (Detroit) in the span of three days before the start of the season. Neither has made much of an impact, with Frk returning to the Red Wings via waivers three weeks later and Dahlbeck playing 10 games through Jan. 4, including just four NHL games in November and December.The only other waiver claim and arguably the only truly successful one Francis has made in his tenure was nabbing Andrej Nestrasil from Detroit in November 2014. The Czech forward was a key cog in Carolina’s attack last season, teaming up with Jordan Staal and Joakim Nordstrom to make up the Hurricanes’ most consistent line.Unfortunately, Nestrasil’s 2015-16 season ended Feb. 25 in Toronto when he fractured a vertebra after falling into the boards awkwardly following a hit by the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri.The injury, which Nestrasil said doctors told him was usually only seen in serious car accidents, has kept the 25-year-old forward from regaining his form and a permanent spot in the lineup: he’s played in just roughly half of Carolina’s games this season.As for Rattie, he will at least initially get his chance with Carolina: in his first game with the Hurricanes Thursday, the former Blues winger started on a line with Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner in Carolina’s 4-2 win against his old team. His 12:59 of ice time marked a new career high. He then got his first point the next night, an assist on the Hurricanes’ lone goal in a 2-1 loss at Chicago Friday. He logged 15:24 of ice time and matched his career high with three shots on goal.
RALEIGH To this point in his college career, Dennis Smith has watched from the sidelines. After tearing his ACL prior to his senior year in high school, Smith enrolled early to get integrated with […]
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