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Rutherford "Hopeful" on Jokinen, Pitkanen

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford has said throughout the weekend that he’s closing in on signing his unrestricted free agents, but it appears he’s made more progress than he even anticipated.

Paul Branecky
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In addition to Erik Cole and Chad LaRose, players he’s wanted to re-sign but has not been able to with the July 1 deadline fast approaching, Rutherford said Saturday that he now believes he has a shot of bringing back Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen, who had seemed a virtual certainty to test the open market.

“We didn’t think we were going to have a chance on Pitkanen and Jokinen, but I’m actually at this point hopeful that we have a chance at both those guys now,” he said.

The Hurricanes’ general manager cited face-to-face contact with agents at the NHL Entry Draft as the catalyst for headway on all fronts.

“We’ve made a lot of progress this weekend,” he said. “For some reason there was a lack of communication with agents for a month. I don’t know if they went on vacation or where they were, but the fact that we got face-to-face with some of them, I’ve made good progress on some of the UFAs.

“I would expect by Tuesday of next week we’ll be able to announce a few signings.”

If Rutherford is able to do so, that would preclude the earlier desire to replace departing players via trade, which he had pursued as recently as last week. Rutherford said that he had discussed two deals, one of which is believed to have hit a snag at the very last minute, but that he is no longer close to any trade.

“We had two going in the last three weeks, and they’re gone now,” he said.

Much more from day two of the draft coming soon.

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