Originally posted on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 1/30/12

A shocking development occurred this afternoon as Jim Rutherford re-signed defenseman Tim Gleason to a four-year deal worth $16 mill. per year. This news came as a surprise to many because it is rare for Rutherford to negotiate with potential free agents during the season, and Gleason was a player that many thought would be traded before the deadline. Trading Gleason around this time makes perfect sense for the Hurricanes because there are a lot of teams in need of defensemen and Rutherford could have gotten a hefty return for him. At the same time, re-signing Gleason now also makes a lot of sense.

Find out after the jump

Gleason has been one of Carolina's heavy-lifters on the blue line the last few seasons, meaning he is normally trusted with the role of shutting down the other team's top line. He's been doing a very good job at that this year and I even considered him the Hurricanes "MVP" of the first half because of the workload that he takes on. He is the only Hurricane defenseman who has been trusted with those minutes throughout the entire season and if he leaves, then someone else is going to have to pick up a lot of slack.

Remember when Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison got a tour of duty on the first defense pairing? They didn't exactly fare that great (.479 scoring chance % when playing together) and I guess that was Kirk Muller's way of finding out if these two were ready to take over for Gleason and Allen if/when they were traded. The empirical and numerical evidences suggests that they aren't quite ready for that kind of role, which means that Gleason still has a place on this team and he wanted to stick around, so we have him for another four years.

As for the term length and money, I don't have a problem with either. Gleason is only 28 and isn't going to be a fossil by the time the deal is up. His play might decline a bit as he gets into his 30's, but I think he will stay as the team's main shutdown defenseman for at least another year. $4 mil. seems like a lot for a guy who has a one-dimensional game, but it's less than what he would have gotten in the open market. Shutdown defensemen can be easily replaced but Carolina would likely have to go the FA route or promote from within to replace Gleason if he left, and does anyone think that Bobby Sanguinetti, Brett Bellemore or Michal Jordan are ready to assume that kind of responsibility as players in their early 20's? That's taking a huge risk.

There are going to be a lot of people saying that Rutherford missed a big opportunity by trading Gleason, but maybe no one offered him a return that he thought was fair? Carolina can't just take draft picks back and the Canes value Gleason a lot more than other teams do. My personal opinion was that I wanted to see Gleason traded and Bryan Allen re-signed because Gleason would fetch a bigger return in the trade market, but I am happy with him being extended. Remember what I said in my post on the two yesterday. The coaching staff trusts Gleason a lot more in tough situations than they do Allen and it looks like Rutherford feels the same way.

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