Tracking the Storm

Canes Sign Two; Others May Leave

Tuesday, 06.28.2011 / 5:13 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Sign Two; Others May Leave
As promised, Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford did make progress on signing some of his unrestricted free agents, but it appears that others may now be on their way out.

Paul Branecky
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On Tuesday, the Hurricanes announced new contracts for Joni Pitkanen (news release) and Patrick Dwyer (news release). Pitkanen, once considered the free agent most likely to leave due to his expected salary demands in a shallow free agent pool, agreed to a new three-year pact that will pay him $4.5 million per year – the same amount he made last season.

Rutherford said that initial doubts about bringing back Pitkanen changed when it became apparent that the player was serious about staying.

“He’s a guy that plays a ton of minutes in all situations, is a big, strong guy, and, if you look at the free agent list for defensemen, he was near the top of it,” said Rutherford. “We thought he would want to test the market, but he really loves playing here and I really appreciate what he did to make that happen.”

Rutherford’s words for others weren’t as kind. While he said he had yet to hear back from Chad LaRose’s representatives, he said that he was disappointed that talks had not also not progressed with Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen, who appear likely to test the open market on July 1.

“For Erik and Jussi, this is about money to them,” said Rutherford. “I’ll use the same quote that I always use this time of year. You have players who say the right thing publicly about wanting to stay, but what they forget to add is, “Unless I can get more money somewhere else.

“That may very well be what happens, and in that way I understand their position.”

The Hurricanes’ GM said that, unlike two years ago when Cole and LaRose tested the open market but did end up returning, he feels that players who are not signed by Friday will end up signing with other teams.

“I think it will be a different dynamic this year,” he said. “I think things will move very quickly.”

If those players do end up departing, Rutherford said that he would move existing players up in the lineup, with the team likely to feature a first line of Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu. Brandon Sutter would then center the second line, with the bulk of the remaining forward spots filled via free agency and promotions from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers.

Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe would feature heavily in that scenario.

“We have to have confidence to have those guys in our lineup,” said Rutherford. “Things may look one way at the end of July, but once you get into the season and give different guys opportunities, things may look different.”

Regarding Tuesday’s other signing, Rutherford said that he was pleased to bring Dwyer, a player who set career highs in games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes last season, back into the fold.

“He’s a good team guy that did everything we asked of him,” said Rutherford. “He played out of position at center last season and never once complained. He’s good on the PK and can play 25-40 games in the top nine if need him to. He’s a really useful player for the Hurricanes.”


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72