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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.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81