The Carolina Hurricanes started free agency by locking up their big trade acquisition for the long haul and bringing back a familiar face. They might not be done there.
Carolina agreed to a 10-year contract extension with center Jordan Staal on Sunday, brought defenseman Joe Corvo back for a third stint with the team and acknowledged it made offers to the two biggest prizes in the free-agent pool – forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
Then, speaking Sunday evening, general manager Jim Rutherford said he expects Parise to sign elsewhere and said he would turn his attention toward trading for a forward. He said he didn’t expect any updates from Suter’s camp until Monday.
”All I can say is that we’re in the trade market and we’re active,” Rutherford said.
Earlier, though, Rutherford said his team was feeling ”more like the big-market teams than we have been in past years” because it had the resources to give Staal his long-term deal and put together the offers for the big-name free agents.
The Hurricanes also re-signed goalie Justin Peters and Brett Sutter to two-way deals.
But the biggest news of the day was the long-term signing of Staal. He will make $6 million per year under the deal, which begins with the 2013-14 season. He is due to make $4.5 million this season.
Staal turned down a 10-year offer from Pittsburgh two weeks ago, and that decision precipitated the trade to Carolina in exchange for center Brandon Sutter, defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 pick in the draft.
”The perception has totally changed about the Hurricanes since we’ve acquired Jordan Staal,” Rutherford said. ”This is really a game-changer for us, the fact that you get a young, elite player that can do so many different things in the game.”
Rutherford says Staal – the younger brother of team captain Eric Staal – ”represents a cornerstone of our franchise for the long term.”
The 23-year-old Staal had career highs with 25 assists and 50 points last season with the Penguins. He was coveted by the Hurricanes, who wanted to add a top-shelf forward to play alongside the older Staal.
Both Staals are natural centers, but coach Kirk Muller said earlier this week that he would experiment during preseason camp with having both of them on the ice at the same time.
”That would be fun to watch, without question,” Rutherford said.
The 35-year-old Corvo is joining the Hurricanes for the third time, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2 million. He was initially acquired in a 2008 trade with Ottawa, and he was dealt to Washington at the 2010 trading deadline – only to return as a free agent that summer. Last year, he signed with Boston and had four goals, 21 assists and a plus-10 rating with the Bruins.
Peters, 25, agreed to a two-year deal that will pay him $525,000 in the NHL or $105,000 if he is sent to the club’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte, with a guarantee of at least $250,000 in 2012-13. He will make $550,000 next year. Peters’ signing is significant because Brian Boucher, the veteran backup to Cam Ward, will miss 4-6 months with a shoulder injury.
Brett Sutter, the 25-year-old cousin of Brandon Sutter, agreed to a one-year contract. He will make $550,000 in the NHL or $105,000 if he is sent to Charlotte, with a guarantee of at least $150,000. He spent most of last season in Charlotte but had three assists in 15 games with the Hurricanes.