"This deal improves our forward lines and adds a very good, young
defenceman with NHL experience to the Hurricanes," Carolina GM Jim Rutherford
said in a statement. "Eric and Tim strengthen the balance of our team."
JR has been way too public in expressing his frustration with Team Johnson. Something was not kwite right from the get-go in this relationship. Chris' comment about Papa Johnson staying in the car while JR had dinner with JJ was just plain creepy. The bridge was already on fire before that faithful evening. The bridge probably collapsed after that bit of strange cinema.
By late last spring, JR could no longer deal from a position of strength. The world knew he wanted to move Johnson. The world knows the Canes are hurting on the blueline and in need of an infusion of NHL ready blueline talent. He probably made the best deal he could get.
The Kings had a glut of similar-skilled centermen. Two of their top-three prospects play center, including the highly regarded Anze Kopitar. Jes has his Jaro Balastik Avatar, mine will probably be my brother in Sloveness, Kopitar...once he sticks in the show. The Kings get Tverdovsky. The Canes get their Tverdovsky. Only difference is that the Hurricanes new Tverdovsky has the chance to become Frankie Kaberle with manly pipes and a mean streak. Their Tverdovsky will more than likely stay just a Tverdovsky.
The Canes dump $2.5 in Tverdovsky salary per season for the next two years. They also make a clean break with a guy (JJ) who looks like he would have been hard to make happy. They take on Belanger's $1.3 mil for one year, and Gleason's $1.75 K, two-year contract. Salary cap wash. Great line from Lyle Richardson on his Fox Sports blog today:
"In the short term, they pick up an experienced puckhandling blueliner in
Oleg Tverdovsky, whose best seasons were with the Kings rival, the Anaheim
Ducks, around the turn of the century."
In his quote, JR stressed the balance this move brings to the team. I've been squawking for a third-line centerman since Matt Cullen signed with the Blueshirts. Belanger might just be that guy. This might let Letowski move back to wing.
The Hurricanes proved you could compete and win a Cup with a blue collar blueline. If Gleason works out to be another Tanaberdovsky, there are solid blueliners in Heddy, Wes, Nic and Commie to step up. With the cap space JR is freeing up, he also opens the door to another deal at or before the deadline. How about a run at Gionta or Gomez if Lou strikes out in his salary relief appeal?
I was expecting a young star, or a superstar-to-be for the Canes superstar-to-be. JR didn't get that. I do like the addition of Belanger. I think he fills a need. I'm taking a wait and see approach on Gleason. The summary on hockeysfuture.com indicates Gleason made a commitment a while back to becoming a more complete defenseman. If that becomes reality, the Hurricanes will have at least another solid blue collar blueliner in the mix. History proves you can win with a no-name defense.
I love everything about Jack Johnson the player. I was really jazzed when he was still available when the Canes selected. He's a one-man youtube highlight machine. Blood, guts and a wicked slapper all rolled into six feet of hockey beast. If he gets a chance to play with Rob Blake, he'll probably learn more about professionalism and preparation than he will at Michigan. If he jumps to the Kings before the end of this season at Michigan, that will say a lot about the veracity of "Team Johnson."
I hope to see a lot of JJ when he makes it to the Pacific divison. Should be lots of cuts, stitches and bruises in his game. He'll look great in purple and black. Should go well with his complexion.
UPDATE: Best analysis out there right now comes from Bob McKenzie on tsn.com. Includes this passage:
The Hurricanes are defending Stanley Cup champions. They have a very good
nucleus with Staal, Justin Williams, Erik Cole, Brind'Amour but between injuries
and free agency, they lost a lot of their depth. It would be foolish for the
Hurricanes to think only of the present, but it's imperative for them not to
backslide this season if they hope to capitalize on their momentum in their
marketplace. Gleason and Belanger will pay immediate dividends and give the
Canes a fighting chance to defend their title.
UPDATE #2: James Mirtle does not concur.