With veteran D-man Aaron Ward heading back to Carolina, the Hurricanes' top six defensive positions appear to be all locked up.
In fact, Canes' General Manager Jim Rutherford says the team's defensive pairings are "set" for next season. Ward will reportedly start the year skating alongside Joni Pitkanen; Joe Corvo will be with Tim Gleason; and Niclas Wallin will play with Andrew Alberts.
Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle remains under contract, but may soon be bought out. Free agents Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg also appear to be on the way out.
As readers of this blog know, there will be plenty of potential Rats looking to crack the Carolina line-up. There's not much room in Raleigh though, so they'll have to play extremely well to earn a full-time job.
Teams usually dress six defenseman for each game. Some keep one or two extra on the roster to rotate in.
Absent any further changes, the Rats' starting defensive line will likely look like this:
Not too many AHL teams have a full complement of defensemen capable of playing in the NHL. With these six, the Rats could be one of them.