Summer fill, a Q&A with Canes Country

As part an effort to keep the cross-conference hockey talk rolling during these dog days of August, the various SB Nation hockey blogs are having some short Q&A's with a member of the opposing conference, so this evening we'll hear from our barbecue-loving brethren, with Bubba from the Carolina Hurricanes blog Canes Country.

Follow after the jump for the skinny on Carolina's franchise player, a defenseman who might make a good fit for Nashville, and the recipe for building a successful hockey market south of the Mason-Dixon Line...

Q: With Eric Staal you guys have the kind of young, elite center that every team wishes they had (and we Preds fans hope Colin Wilson develops into). Since the lockout he's scored between 30 and 45 goals each year, so my question is, since he's not even 25, does he still have untapped potential? How high might his ceiling go?

A: Even though Staal is relatively young, I'm not sure I would say that he has "untapped potential".  So far his best year was in 2005-06, (45G 55A) and that might end up being a career best, who knows?  One thing the center can do is improve his consistency.  He can get into a rut at times and go several games in a row without scoring a point.  Then he will break out with a few multiple point games.  As he matures and gains experience, he should be able to even out the highs and lows in his game and be more consistent.  His point totals should go up accordingly.  

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with continuing to score 30-45 goals every year, but Staal could improve on his ability to set up his teammates.  He puts a lot of pressure on himself to deliver in every situation and perhaps when he gets older and wiser, he will be able trust his linemates better and will attempt to set them up more often.

As far as his ceiling, I believe that his 100 point year is a good target for him.  Staal does not have the luxury of having another elite scorer on his line, but if he ever did?  Watch out.

Eric Staal

#12 / Center / Carolina Hurricanes

6-4

205

Oct 29, 1984

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Eric Staal 82 40 35 75 15 50 14 1 8 0 372 10.8

Q: The Preds have a spot available for a veteran, relatively cheap defenseman to play on the 2nd or 3rd pair, and the power play is in desperate need of help. How might Dennis Seidenberg fit that need, and what does it say about him as a player that Jim Rutherford has publicly cut him loose?

A: Seidenberg would be a big help to the powerplay.  He moves the puck well and has a very good slapshot.  I think Rutherford cut him loose because the Canes already have Pitkanen and Corvo to run the powerplay and Seidenberg was expendable.  Also, it seemed that the defenseman was asking for more money or wanted a longer term contract than what the Canes wanted to offer.  He can be inconsistent at times in his own end, but in general is a pretty good player and would be a good pickup for you guys.

Dennis Seidenberg

#4 / Defenseman / Carolina Hurricanes

6-1

210

Jul 18, 1981

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Dennis Seidenberg 70 5 25 30 -9 37 2 0 1 0 129 3.9

Q: The Hurricanes appear to be a successful "non-traditional market" team, and you wrote recently about the franchise ranking #2 across all of professional sports in ESPN's "fan friendly" ranking. How important to that development do you see the team's Stanley Cup championship? It seems like the Predators have done everything right in this regard, except achieve playoff success.
 
A: A Stanley Cup Championship is invaluable. I still believe the franchise would be considered successful even without the championship, but at the very least it changes perceptions.  The media coverage is enhanced, not just locally, but globally.  It raises interest in the local area from people who might not generally be paying attention to hockey.  It helps to solidify the fanbase with a sense of pride.  It's helped to give the franchise some added respect around the league.  It's raised expectations, not only from fans but from within the organization itself.  
 
Q: Shouldn't Nashville really be part of the Southeast Division? I know you enjoy playing Washington (just as Preds fans enjoy the Detroit rivalry), but us two combined with Atlanta and the two Florida teams makes more sense, doesn't it?

A: Personally, I would love it if the Hurricanes and Predators were in the same division and obviously it makes sense geographically.  I attended the draft there in 2003 and really had a great time.  But there is no way I would want to sacrifice our budding rivalry with the Capitals.  Perhaps if Bettman ever expands the division to six teams?  :-)
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