Loss of Kaberle will hurt 'Canes
Yesterday's announcement that defenceman Frantisek Kaberle would miss anywhere from four to six months passed with little fanfare, especially considering the 32-year-old Czech was the highest-scoring blueliner on the Stanley Cup champions last season.
Struggling with a shoulder injury over the shortened off-season, Kaberle finally had to go with a surgery — and a significant one at that. The timeframe of his injury means he'll be back in action anywhere from mid-January to as late as the March trade deadline.
If I was Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, I'd approach the coming season as if Kaberle wouldn't be back at all — although finding a replacement for his power-play minutes won't be easy.
2005-06 was a breakout campaign for Kaberle, the less-famed older brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas, and his 44 points represented nearly twice the totals as the next highest-scoring Carolina defenceman (Bret Hedican, 27). Seventeen of Kaberle's points came with the man advantage, and it's on the power play where the Hurricanes will need a replacement.
Already down Cory Stillman to a similar shoulder surgery, Carolina also lost Matt Cullen and Aaron Ward to free agency this summer, and taking another defencement out of the mix leaves them with an even less competent crew on the backend. Mike Commodore and Hedican are now at the top of Carolina's depth chart on the blueline, with role players like Nic Wallin, Glen Wesley and David Tanabe filling the No. 3 to No. 5 roles. Oleg Tverdovsky and Andrew Hutchinson give coach Pete Laviolette some options in that power play QB role, but they aren't intriguing ones.
The title defence is already off to a rocky start.