Canes look at options after losing Pitkanen for the year
Posted September 11, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.