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Tracking the Storm

Canes Sign Two; Others May Leave

Tuesday, 06.28.2011 / 5:13 PM / 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.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 59 11 27 -16 38
E. Staal 54 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 58 11 15 -16 26
J. Skinner 54 15 9 -16 24
R. Nash 56 7 14 -9 21
N. Gerbe 55 6 14 -13 20
A. Sekera 57 2 17 -7 19
V. Rask 57 8 10 -18 18
J. McClement 59 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 23 4 11 -1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 6 11 3 .901 2.73