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Tracking the Storm

Rutherford: 'Things Are Falling Into Place'

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 9:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Rutherford: \'Things Are Falling Into Place\'
Over a casual lunch in New York City in mid-March, Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford sat down with Alexander Semin to talk about his season, whether he liked playing for Carolina and if he wanted to stay.

Michael Smith
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A week later, on the eve of Semin’s 500th NHL game, Rutherford and the Hurricanes signed the 29-year-old forward to a five-year, $35 million extension, securing him through the 2017-18 season.

“When I knew that I was really in the same ballpark as they were, it was just a matter of negotiating it out over the past week,” Rutherford said in a phone interview on Monday. “Mr. Karmanos has said this is a player we have to resign, and we need to spend the money. He’s given that approval, and we’ve ended up doing it.”

“I love this city. I love the fans. In a short time, I have grown very close with my teammates, coaches and staff in Carolina,” Semin relayed to Canes television analyst Tripp Tracy.

Despite having re-signed both Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu last winter, Rutherford is notably careful of negotiating contracts while in-season. But he knew Semin was a player he wanted to secure long-term before he inched closer to the open market in the summer.

“It’s hard to get elite players in this league, and when you look at Alex’s numbers and compare them to the elite players, his numbers season after season are very strong,” Rutherford said. “It puts an elite player in the lineup for the next five years, and makes a real strong number one line with Eric and Jiri.”

In 30 games this season, Semin has posted a team-leading 22 assists, and he ranks second on the team with 30 points. His plus-18 plus/minus rating ranks second on the team and sixth in the league. The first-line trio of Semin, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty has recorded 87 points (35g, 52a) and is a collective plus-55.

In the summer of 2012, Rutherford sat out to secure a top-six forward to complement Eric Staal. He ultimately added two, bringing Jordan Staal into the fold via trade as a one-two center punch with his elder brother and signing Semin as a free agent in late July. It was Semin’s third straight one-year contract and first with Carolina. The Krasnoyarsk, Russia, native had spent his first seven seasons in the NHL with Washington.

“Any time a player comes here, he comes with a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what has happened or what the player has done,” Rutherford said. “When signing him, the expectations were to give Eric a real strong winger and for him to come in and put points on the board.

“We really didn’t know Alex and he didn’t know us,” Rutherford continued. “After a period of time, we saw that he was a good fit for our team, and he has clearly passed all expectations.”

The signing brings Semin into the core of players that Carolina has signed through at least the 2015-16 season, including Tuomo Ruutu, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison and Cam Ward.

Retaining Semin, who possesses an elite scoring touch and unrivaled playmaking ability, helps to solidify the Canes’ roster for the future, especially heading into a more competitive, big-spending division beginning next season.

“I’d say a lot of things are falling into place,” Rutherford said.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45