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Capitals vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Hurricanes Sign Two on First Day of Free Agency

Friday, 07.05.2013 / 4:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Hurricanes Sign Two on First Day of Free Agency

A week ago, Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford had a specific set of goals: draft an elite player and acquire a top-four defenseman.

Michael Smith
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He ended up doing that – and more.

After selecting forward Elias Lindholm fifth overall and trading for defenseman Andrej Sekera last Saturday in Newark, NJ, the Hurricanes made two moves on the first day of free agency, signing defenseman Mike Komisarek and goaltender Anton Khudobin to one-year deals.

“We had hoped to get an elite player in the draft, which I feel we did in Lindholm. We also got a top-four defenseman in Sekera,” Rutherford said. “And now, we got Komisarek and a real strong back-up goalie. Within a week, I feel pretty good that the Hurricanes have improved their team.”

Even after acquiring Sekera at the 2013 NHL Draft, Rutherford said that he might not be done tinkering with the defense.

He was right, as the Canes inked Komisarek, a veteran American-born blueliner, to a one-year, $700,000 deal in the first 30 minutes of free agency on Friday.

“This is an important piece to our defense group,” Rutherford said. “We’re very pleased to add him to give us a more balanced defense.”

Komisarek joins draft-day addition Sekera as the two new faces among the Hurricanes’ defensive corps. Sekera will likely skate in the top four of the defense, while Rutherford said Komisarek should pair with Jay Harrison as the five-six tandem.

In 519 career regular-season NHL games, Komisarek has recorded 665 penalty minutes and 77 points (14g, 63a). He’s logged 29 career playoff games, all with the Montreal Canadiens.

“Based on our background check, he’s in great shape,” Rutherford said of the 31-year-old defenseman. “He’s really good with younger players, and he will help our locker room.”

The team’s second move of the day came about three hours later. After Dan Ellis signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars, the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Hurricanes agreed to terms with Khudobin on a one-year, $800,000 contract.

Khudobin, 27, posted a 9-4-1 record, one shutout, a .920 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-against average with the Boston Bruins in 2012-13.

“He played on a very good team with the Bruins, and he had great numbers,” Rutherford said. “We have a scout right in Boston that saw a lot of him. He started talking about him midway through the season.

“He played extremely well, and we feel that he can do that for us.”

In addition to what the scout noted, the Hurricanes can mine data from when Khudobin backstopped the Florida Everbaldes, the organization’s ECHL affiliate, in 2008-09. That season, the Russian-born goaltender posted an 18-10-1 record with four shutouts, a .907 save percentage and a 2.71 goals-against average.

Bringing Khudobin into the fold, Justin Peters will likely see a majority of his playing time in Charlotte. Peters is on a one-way deal in the second year of his two-year contract, but Rutherford is not looking to move him.

“Peters has given us some good games and taken some time to develop, and he’ll still get some games next year,” he said.

Though perhaps more low-key compared to others, the Komisarek and Khudobin signings – both low-risk, high-reward – were equally important in addressing the identified shortcomings of the Hurricanes.

That's not to say the Canes’ roster is set for training camp. In late July of 2012, the team signed Alexander Semin, who inked a five-year extension this March.

A forward who comes along at the right price, Rutherford said, is always worth the consideration. That said, with the addition of a probable third-line center in Lindholm and the influx of talent from Charlotte vying for depth positions, the door on signing another forward or bringing back Tim Brent or Chad LaRose is closing quickly.

“As far as we’re concerned, today went as we hoped it would go,” Rutherford said.



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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