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Hurricanes Notebook: Staal Healthy, Free Agent Talk

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
While the Carolina Hurricanes might be without defenseman Joni Pitkanen to begin the season, captain Eric Staal should be ready to go.

Michael Smith
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Staal, who participated in the annual media golf outing on Tuesday and has been skating at Raleigh Center Ice, said that he has recovered from his knee injury sustained in this summer’s World Championship.

“I feel good now, and I feel as normal as I have in years past,” he said. “There should be no issues once camp starts.”

Staal took a knee-on-knee hit from Swedish defenseman Alexander Edler on May 16 in a World Championship quarterfinal match-up and was diagnosed with a third-degree MCL sprain, which did not require surgery.

“By the end of June, I was functioning close to normal with my range of motion,” Staal said. “Where I’m at now, I’m not worried about it.”

“I feel good today because it’s the first time I’ve had a good chat with him about it,” said Canes head coach Kirk Muller. “You can tell that he felt confident.”

In addition to his health, Staal is also confident about the makeup of the team.

“I really like the type of people that we have throughout the lineup. I think we got stronger on the back-end, and I think Cam [Ward] being healthy is important,” he said. “It’s been a few years [since qualifying for the playoffs]. We need to perform and get back there. I think everybody on our team is eager to try to do that.”

Canes Invite Dvorak to Training Camp

Veteran forward Radek Dvorak will be attending the Hurricanes training camp as an invitee, according to team President and General Manager Jim Rutherford.

“We need to fix is our specialty teams, and [Dvorak] is a really good penalty killer,” he said.

Dvorak, 36, has logged exactly 1,200 career regular-season games, scoring 581 points (223g, 358a). He spent the 2012-13 season with the Anaheim Ducks after stints with six other NHL teams. As a teenager, Dvorak skated alongside Muller for three seasons with Florida in the late 1990’s.

“He’s had the ability to be a good penalty killer late in his career, and that’s an area we have to get better at,” Muller said. “If he’s capable of playing at a certain level, he can have a valuable contribution to the hockey team.”

Team Talking to Morrow

Brenden Morrow remains on the team’s free agent watch-list, according to Rutherford and Muller, but the veteran forward isn’t going to rush to a decision.

“He’s under consideration,” Rutherford said. “Kirk [Muller] has talked to him periodically.”

“I know he has different opportunities, but it’s clear that Carolina is a spot he has on the radar, and I think he’s just hanging tight right until the end. We’ll just see what happens,” said Muller, who was teammates with Morrow for four seasons in Dallas. “I’ve talked to him a few times, and the things he’s looking for I think we can offer him.”

Morrow has played in 850 career regular-season NHL games, logging 249 goals and 293 assists (542 points). After 13 seasons with the Dallas Stars, Morrow was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins leading up to last season’s trade deadline. He recorded 14 points (6g, 8a) in 15 regular-season games for the Pens, adding a pair of goals and assists in 14 playoff games.

Traverse City Rookie Tournament Gets Underway Thursday

The puck drops in the annual Traverse City Rookie Tournament on Thursday, with the Canes facing off with the New York Rangers at 3:30 p.m.

The team’s 22-man roster consists of 14 players drafted by Carolina, two players signed as free agents and six tournament invitees. First-round picks Ryan Murphy and Elias Lindholm highlight the group, but Rutherford said the Canes plan to hold back Lindholm due to his lingering shoulder injury from Prospects Development Camp.

“There’s no structural damage. It’s a bruise. For a young guy, we don’t want to put him in a bad position,” Rutherford said. “We’ll try to slow it down, but unfortunately, he doesn’t get a jump on the big camp. We want to make sure he’s healthy.”

You can find the Hurricanes schedule here and a roster here.

Follow @Canes_Gameday on Twitter for game updates, and if any video content comes our way, we’ll be sure to share it with you.

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