RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Joni Pitkanen on a three-year contract. The deal will pay Pitkanen $4.5 million per season.
“Joni has been a very important part of our defense as he plays in all situations,” said Rutherford. “He plays a lot of minutes, and is one of the top puck-movers in the league. We are very pleased that he wanted to return to the Hurricanes.”
Pitkanen, 27, led all Hurricanes defenseman in assists (30) and was second among Carolina blueliners in points (35), skating in 72 of the team’s 82 games during the 2010-11 season. The Oulu, Finland, native ranked 13th in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:01), and the Hurricanes earned points in 26 of the 30 games in which he had a point (21-4-5). Pitkanen (6’3”, 210 lbs.) earned his 200th career NHL assist on Feb. 25 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and matched his career-long point streak with points in six consecutive games from Nov. 17 through Nov. 28 (1g, 5a).
Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Pitkanen has totaled 51 goals, 205 assists (256 points) and 456 penalty minutes in 483 career NHL regular-season games with Philadelphia, Edmonton and Carolina. He has skated in 39 career Stanley Cup playoff games, collecting 13 assists. Pitkanen was acquired by the Hurricanes on July 1, 2008 in exchange for Erik Cole, and has earned 114 points (18g, 96a) in 214 regular-season games, and eight points (0g, 8a) in 18 playoff games since joining Carolina. He represented Finland at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, earning a bronze medal.