Jun 28, 2011, 5:26 PM EDT
While one can debate whether or not he actually should be a big-minute defenseman, Joni Pitkanen plays that role for the Carolina Hurricanes. Only 12 other players averaged more than the Finnish blueliner’s 24:55 minutes per game in 2010-11 and that was actually a step back to the norm after he averaged a whopping 27:23 time on ice in 09-10.
The Hurricanes rewarded Pitkanen for his big minutes and solid offensive contributions (35 points in 10-11, 46 in 09-10) with a three-year, $13.5 million contract extension today. That amounts to a $4.5 million annual salary cap hit, which is a $500K per year raise from his soon-to-expire three year deal for $12 million.
That’s not a bad deal for the Hurricanes considering how much they depend on Pitkanen. It also might be a bit generous of Pitkanen when you take into account how weak the market is for unrestricted free agent defensemen. That’s not to say that he would be guaranteed to make more money on the open market, but with few other options, it is at least conceivable that he might receive more.
Still, he probably enjoys his role and time in Carolina and they’re paying him a nice sum. This leaves the Hurricanes with about $28.7 million of cap space and 7-10 roster spots to fill. The team has some questions left to answer, with Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen being there most prominent unrestricted free agent and Brandon Sutter headed for restricted free agency.
It’s quite possible that their defense might be more or less set after today’s signing, though.
- Hitch needs ‘time to reflect’ before making decision on future 0
- Rutherford admits mistakes, but has support of Penguins ownership 2
- Wings’ Kronwall has hearing today for hit on Kucherov 28
- Kucherov isn’t going to ‘cry’ about Kronwall hit 37
- Nothing but Kuznetsov: Caps best Isles in Game 7 26
- Not done yet: Lightning earn Game 7 against Red Wings 10
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 0
- Blues owner ‘disappointed and frustrated,’ but not ready to ‘throw people under the bus’ 31
- Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core? 16
- Report: Developers file intent to build arena in Seattle suburb 80
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (110)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (99)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Friedman: Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin (89)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)