The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed two potential unrestricted free agents today, inking blue liner Joni Pitkanen to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million per season, and right wing Patrick Dwyer to a two-year contract worth $600K next season and $650K in 2012-13.
Of the two, Pitkanen's is the most notable. For weeks it was anticipated the smooth-skating Finn would be hitting the free agent market. Indeed, until mid-June, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford sounded resigned to Pitkanen's eventual departure.
But the mood quickly changed following the entry draft weekend, with Rutherford suddenly expressing optimism he could get Pitkanen under contract.
What's interesting is how much money Pitkanen passed up in the free agent market to remain with the Hurricanes. Essentially he's receiving only a slight raise of $500K per season, whereas if he tested the market he probably would've gotten considerably more than that.
It would've been a significant blow to the Hurricanes defense had they lost Pitkanen, who was their best puck-moving defenseman over the past three seasons. In 2010-11 he had 35 points in 72 games, 12 of those coming on the power-play, with a plus-minus of -2.
Dwyer, 27, finally played his first full NHL season in 2010-11, and in 80 games netted 18 points playing on the Hurricanes checking lines.
While successfully keeping their best defenseman and one of their checking forwards in the lineup, it remains to be seen if the Hurricanes can also re-sign wingers Erik Cole, Jussi Jokinen and Chad LaRose.