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Hurricanes suspend defenceman Babchuk for failing to report to AHL affiliate

NHL.com @NHL

(CP) - The Carolina Hurricanes have 10 NHL defenceman and Anton Babchuk was the odd man out. And he's not happy about it.

So the 22-year-old refused an assignment to AHL Albany, forcing the Hurricanes to suspend him Wednesday.

"It's really more of an administrative thing for us right now with our numbers with everybody back healthy," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "Anton is just kind of set back by it because he played very well. He's just taking a couple of days to think about it. But by league rules this is something we have to do."

Babchuk was the obvious candidate to be reassigned. He's the only defenceman among the 10 that's on a two-way contract, making US$900,600 in the NHL and $92,500 in the AHL, and also doesn't have to clear waivers to be demoted.

He had two goals and 12 assists in 51 games with the Hurricanes this season.

With the return of veterans Bret Hedican and Frantisek Kaberle over the last week, Carolina is bursting with defencemen. A deal will likely be made at some point before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

"We've had a lot of interest in defencemen," said Rutherford. "We're not breaking up our core group of guys that we won with. Also including the trade with made for (Tim) Gleason. After that, we have to decide which one we would consider moving."

It would appear Babchuk is the most likely candidate to be moved, although Andrew Hutchinson and Dennis Seidenberg were healthy scratches Tuesday night.

Rutherford will continue to work the phones. The Hurricanes are hoping to add a top-six forward before the trade deadline, and could be in the mix for Philadelphia's Peter Forsberg, among other big names.

Babchuck's suspension came one day after Kaberle was activated from the non-roster injured list. The Czech veteran missed 55 games while he recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. He scored the winning goal in Tuesday night's 2-1 win at Montreal.

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