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Canes Corner

Canes look at options after losing Pitkanen for the year

Posted September 11, 2013

Joni Pitkanen (25) during the Carolina Hurricanes vs. Winnipeg Jets NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C. Friday, March 30, 2012.

— The Carolina Hurricanes announced Wednesday that defenseman Joni Pitkanen will miss the entire 2013-14 NHL season due to a fractured heel that he suffered in last years shortened season.

In anticipation of the worst-case-scenario news that has become reality, the organization acquired two defensemen this off-season. They signed free agent Mike Komisarek from Toronto and traded Jamie McBain to Buffalo for Andrej Sekera.

With the Pitkanen injury, the Hurricanes will head into training camp with Tim Gleason, Justin Faulk, Jay Harrison, Brett Bellemore, Ryan Murphy, Sekara and Komisarek as their top seven on the blue line.

When asked if the team would wait to add another defenseman or actively pursue a trade or free agent, General Manager and President Jim Rutherford said that they are, “Looking at what our options are.”

Rutherford said last week that if Pitkanen was unable to be ready for the season that the team would be willing to go outside of the organization. With training camp starting Thursday, the team does have time to look at what is in the organization as well.

A few names that could be given a longer look in camp are Harvard prospect and Charlotte Checker Danny Biega, Michal Jordan who saw time with the Hurricanes last season and 2009 draft choice Rasmus Rissanen.

Pitkanen injured his heel while trying to get back in time to touch up a puck for icing against the Washington Capitals on April 2, a game the Hurricanes lost 5-3.

The Finnish defenseman has historically been among the league leaders in ice-time per season, usually logging about 25 minutes on the ice per game. During his five seasons with Carolina, he has compiled 24 goals and 116 assists and has been a point man on the team’s top power play unit.

The NHL has been mulling over the idea to change its rules on icing for years -- specifically the situation that will cost Pitkanen an entire season. As of right now, a team can still avoid an icing call by beating the defense to the puck after a pass that crosses center ice and the opposing end line -- which happens a handful of times a season, but several injuries can be linked to allowing this play to go on. The AHL has tested a hybrid no-touch rule, and after this latest season-ending injury, the NHL should rethink how icing is handled today.

There are clear scenarios when a puck is iced that there is no need to continue the play. Without getting into all the intricacies, if a defenseman can cross the face-off dots in his end of the rink before an attacking player, the whistle should blow saving players from unnecessary contact.

But this is the NHL, so there is no guarantee that the powers that be will know how to implement a change that will help the game.

18 Comments

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  • jbengel Sep 14, 9:40 a.m.

    This doesn't make sense. How can they know now what his condition will be 4 months from now.

    — Posted by jscott13

    He could recover form the injury in 4 months -- or never. This is the kind of thing that can end a career. But even if it healed, he'd never be in shape to play. And if by some miracle he could get in the physical condition to return... he'd still be just as prone to turnovers, penalties and bad pinches.

  • jbengel Sep 14, 9:37 a.m.

    From the accounts last week his agent was not keeping the team up with his situation and Pits... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    As good as Morrow is, the Canes don't really need another LW. Who would he replace? Tlusty? Ruutu? Skinner? Better that they should figure out where Lindholm is going to fit and then either find a 3rd line center or a 2nd line RW (unless you think Zac Dalpe is the answer at 2R).

  • rocheccw Sep 12, 11:00 a.m.

    Contract wise...What is the rule on him missing the entire season? Does he receive his full... View More

    — Posted by Wags

    Once the Canes Place him on LTIR...the Canes or insurance(if the Canes had insurance on him) will pay him his salary. See my post above about Joni's placement on LTIR in relation to the Canes salary cap.

  • rocheccw Sep 12, 10:53 a.m.

    + him being out for the full year helps the Canes, they can put him on IR which will get them... View More

    — Posted by caniacman

    With LTIR you are much better off to be at the cap when you put someone on LTIR than over or under.

    You do not just get Pitkanen's 4.5M added to the 64.3M cap...it is not that simple.

    If the Canes sit at 62M when they put Joni on LTIR the their new cap is 66.5M...but if the Canes were somehow at 65M when they put Joni on LTIR then their cap stays at 65M. The only way you get full AAV cap value for a player going on LTIR is if you are at the cap...i.e. if the Canes are at 64.3M(the Salary Cap) when they put Joni on LTIR then their new cap is 68.8M. but I'm no expert...

  • scott_m99 Sep 12, 10:25 a.m.

    This is a blessing in disguise

  • wlcat609 Sep 12, 9:39 a.m.

    What I see happening in this situation is - Joni not playing may be a benefit in disguise as it provides an opportunity for another defenseman that REALLY PLAYS DEFENSE in front of Cam!

    What I think JR might do is watch those in camp now and evaluate if one can help the team. If not, then he'll claim a 'D' player off the waiver wire when the teams trim their rosters - that way the Canes would only have to pay the newly acquired player half of his salary (the former team also pays the other half and that money goes against their salary cap).

  • Wags Sep 12, 9:33 a.m.

    Contract wise...What is the rule on him missing the entire season? Does he receive his full contact for the year? Is it still a full hit on the salary cap?

  • caniacman Sep 12, 9:06 a.m.

    + him being out for the full year helps the Canes, they can put him on IR which will get them cap relief, that means his full salary will not count against the cap which gives them some money for a Hainsey or Morrow. Not sure if they get the full salary or just a part of it. So putting him on the shelf for the full year instead of just half helps them.

  • daveroe77 Sep 12, 7:40 a.m.

    "But this is the NHL, so there is no guarantee that the powers that be will know how to implement a change that will help the game." Completely agree, Mike. Especially when the play Joni was hurt on was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I found it easy to modify that quote to another aspect of this situation:

    "But this is the 'Canes, so there is no guarantee that Jim Rutherford will know how to implement a change that will help the team."

  • possumsoup Sep 12, 5:44 a.m.

    He stays in Penalty Box all time anyway. He want be missed.

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