Today the Hurricanes announced that the team has signed Tim Gleason to a tryout contract. He will join the team at practice today.
I think there could be both a short-term and a long-term to this.
With Ryan Murphy out for an uncertain period of time with a concussion, the team is down to 6 defensemen. The logical solution to this would be to recall a defenseman from Charlotte, but Charlotte has even bigger injury issues right now. With Danny Biega, Keegan Lowe and Rasmus Rissanen all dinged up, the Checkers added Justin Agosta and Mike Cornell to at least temporarily fill holes.
The Canes schedule is friendly to having a local emergency player on call in case someone gets hurt during a pre-game skate or turns up sick. The Canes play at home on Friday and Sunday, are a short flight away in Philadelphia on Monday, play home on Wednesday and then play Friday night in Buffalo. For the Friday game after the Thanksgiving holiday, the Canes will likely fly out Friday morning. So with a busy 5 games in 8 days mostly in/near Raleigh, it is reasonably possible to cover that stretch of hockey with Tim Gleason on emergency standby. The Canes would need to sign him to a regular contract and depending on when needed hustle him to a plane, but it could buy the team time for either a Ryan Murphy return or reinforcements to become available from Charlotte.
If the Hurricanes 2015-16 season keeps heading in its current direction (south), Ron Francis might need some ready, inexpensive help to fill out his blue line later this season. John-Michael Liles is playing decent hockey, is a proven veteran and is a free agent this summer which could make him a decent trade chip for a team looking to add a veteran either for depth or to fill a whole created by an injury. But the Canes would need to backfill the spot, and Francis will want to do the right thing in 2 regards. First, he will not want to force up young players from Charlotte if they are not ready for NHL experience yet. Second, he will not want to put the youth already in the NHL (Hanifin, Pesce and to some degree Murphy) in bad situations that hinder their development. So it could be tricky collecting some futures for current defensemen and still filling the NHL roster in a way that does not handicap player development. Ron Hainsey has another full year on his contract after 2015-16, but there is even a chance that he could be dealt at some point. Keeping Gleason close and understanding if/to what degree/how quickly he could be ready to step back into the NHL provides 1 option for backfilling the NHL roster either because of injury or possibly because of a trade.
There will be grumbling about another Hurricanes recycling project, but as long as this is a stopgap and not part of the longer-term plan, I am okay with it. We will not know where this fits into the bigger picture for 2015-16 for another 2-6 weeks (could just be short-term emergency help per above), but nearing the magical 20-game first GM mile post of the 2015-16 season with a struggling team, bringing back a player in his twilight on a PTO contract might be an early signal about Francis’ commitment/budget for playing for 2015-16. Perhaps that is a reality that we all need to gradually start settling into.