By the time the calendar flips to August, the National Hockey League offseason has slowed quite a bit.
But behind the scenes, the Carolina Hurricanes were diligently working to ink another one of their young, talented defensemen to a long-term contract extension, a process that had been ongoing for about a month.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Canes had agreed to terms with Brett Pesce on a six-year extension that pays the blue-liner $4.025 million per season.
"I know how much faith the organization has put in me with this deal," Pesce said on a Wednesday conference call. "I know that now is the time to get even better and work even harder to elevate my game."
Video: On The Phone: Brett Pesce
Pesce, 22, comprised one half of one of the league's top defensive pairs last season. Alongside Jaccob Slavin - who received a seven-year contract extension not even a month ago - the two each posted a plus-23 rating, a team-best mark and the fourth-best rating in franchise history. In his second full professional season, Pesce was one of six skaters to play in all 82 games and also set career highs in assists (18) and points (20).
"I always hope and strive for the best. When it happens, it's pretty surreal," Pesce said. "I have a lot to be thankful for, starting with my family. I've got a great support system that helped me to get here."
In the room and off the ice, Pesce is just as close with Slavin and his fellow defensemen, all of whom are around the same age and have essentially developed together in the league.
"I think it's awesome and rare that our group of defensemen, we're all so close," he said. "I think it just goes a long way to come into the league together - me, him and Noah - and grow as people and hockey players. That builds our chemistry off the ice."
And with a pair of long-term extensions doled out this summer, the Hurricanes have made significant progress in solidifying the future of a defensive corps that is only going to continue to mature and improve.
"I love Raleigh, honestly. I consider it home now. I love the team. Management is great to me," Pesce said. "I really don't have anything bad to say, and that's why it was a no-brainer when we were talking six years for me."
A native of Tarrytown, NY, Pesce was selected by the Hurricanes in the third round (66th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. Pesce turned pro after completing his junior season at the University of New Hampshire, where he was teammates with Trevor van Riemsdyk from 2012-14.
"He's just another good skating defenseman," Pesce said of the Canes' newest defenseman. "He's a really good player. Very smart and great in the D-zone. He can join the rush and contribute offensively, so I think he fits perfectly into our system."
Looking inward, Pesce has turned his offseason attention in the direction of his offensive abilities, specifically his shot and making that more of a weapon from the blue line.
"I've been hitting that pretty hard," Pesce said. "And my overall strength. You can always get stronger. It's what you use the offseasons for."
The Hurricanes' offseason has garnered rave reviews around the NHL media landscape, something that was well documented by Mike Sundheim. And as he notes, it's not just media folk that are bullish on the Canes - it's the players themselves, too.
Pesce shared the same sentiment.
"We made the moves to be a playoff team, for sure," he said. "I think anything below that is an underachievement. It's a really exciting time, and I'm excited to be a part of it."