Tag: Jeremy Rutherford

Hurricanes hand GM Jim Rutherford a four-year contract extension


If there’s one theme to the Carolina Hurricanes’ way of doing business, it might be “loyalty.”

Sometimes that preference reaches into the realm of the slightly ridiculous, as the team tends to bring back retreads with notable frequency. Just look at their history with Anton Babchuk, Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, the Kaberle brothers and even their once-fired head coach Paul Maurice for examples of this phenomenon.

While the team’s on-ice results seem to be on one year and off the other – possibly as a result of the Canes’ dependence upon stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward – the team seems like a solid hit in its non-traditional market. It’s my guess that fact (and his glistening 2006 Stanley Cup championship ring) explains why the Hurricanes decided to hand general manager Jim Rutherford a four-year contract extension.

It’s true that I don’t agree with every decision Rutherford makes, but considering Carolina’s restricted budget, it seems like he does a very solid job of putting together an attacking roster. Last year’s seventh overall pick Jeff Skinner won the 2011 Calder Trophy and most of their recent first round picks have been direct hits (even if they ended up on different teams).

The team might struggle with the loss of a key player such as Cole – who bolted for the Montreal Canadiens’ substantial deal – but it was the most cost-effective and risk-conscious option for a player with a troubling injury history. My guess at this moment is that the Canes will struggle to fight for a playoff spot in 2011-12, but for the most part, Rutherford seems like he knows what’s he is doing.

Hurricanes hand Jussi Jokinen a three-year, $9M extension

Henrik Lundqvist, Jussi Jokinen

Remember when people thought Jussi Jokinen served no purpose beyond being a wildly efficient shootout scorer?

The Finnish winger shed that label over the years as he moved from the (once?) rigid structure of the Dallas Stars system to a more wide-open style with the Carolina Hurricanes. He found his way to Carolina after a brief run with the Tampa Bay Lightning, truly cementing his place with the Canes thanks to a hot 2008-09 playoff run (11 points in 18 games).

Jokinen has been a solid offensive contributor in his two full seasons with Carolina, scoring a career-high 65 points in 2009-10 and following it up with a solid 52 points in 10-11. The Hurricanes rewarded his deft work by signing him to a three-year, $9 million contract extension today.

This constitutes another bit of housekeeping for the Hurricanes. They re-signed hard working forward Chad LaRose to a two-year deal on Wednesday and locked up their top defenseman Joni Pitkanen on Tuesday. Their biggest free agent question revolves around the status of power forward Erik Cole, who might be primed for free agency once noon comes around on Friday.

Hurricanes GM Jeremy Rutheford can breathe a bit easier now that he has most – but not all – of his free agent forwards under wraps. The team has 16 players under contract at about $41 million, giving them about $23.2 million in cap space to fill 4-7 roster spots.

Family ties: Hurricanes draft Kevin Lowe’s son Keegan, add their third Sutter

Brandon Sutter, Ondrej Pavelec

When reflecting upon many of the Carolina Hurricanes’ personnel (bringing back Erik Cole, Cory Stillman and Anton Babchuk) and front office (hiring and promoting former stars Ron Francis and Rod Brind’Amour) moves over the years, it becomes clear that this franchise values familiarity. After studying their second day draft moves, it’s apparent they also value family ties.

Canes GM Jeremy Rutherford made two partially genes-based moves today, drafting Kevin Lowe’s son Keegan with their 73rd selection and adding yet another Sutter family member in the form of Brody Sutter with the 193rd pick. It’s almost as if the Hurricanes should play in Nepotism Arena at this point; they currently own the rights to Staal brothers (Eric and Jared), three Sutters (Brody is the cousin of Brent and Brandon Sutter) and Keegan Lowe.

While Rutherford was quick to say that their picks jived with the opinions of scouts, it doesn’t seem like an accident that their NHL-level and minor league rosters seem like a family reunion waiting to happen.

“I think having good bloodlines always helps, but these are players that, when the scouting staff does their list and we get to certain rounds where they fall on our list, they’re selected appropriately,” Rutherford said.

Lowe told The Associated Press that he discussed the possibility of playing for his father’s Edmonton Oilers, but he also wanted to carve his own path.

The younger Lowe went to Carolina with the 73rd pick, after finishing with two goals and 22 assists in 71 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. He said he and Kevin Lowe discussed the possibility of being drafted by the Oilers, but Keegan Lowe decided he’d rather make a name for himself somewhere else.

“We talked about it, if I would like going there, because obviously, if I didn’t want to, it would be up to me,” Keegan Lowe said. “He was just trying to treat me like any other player. He wasn’t going to hate me if I wasn’t going to go with them … but I’m just happy to be picked by Carolina.”

Keegan Lowe will probably get a better chance to make an impact on Carolina’s roster than Brody Sutter will, at least judging by where they were drafted (Lowe is a third round pick, Sutter went in the final round). That being said, if Brody manages to play in the NHL, he would become the ninth Sutter to play hockey at its highest level.

One cannot help but wonder if Carolina’s draft board looks more like a family tree, but such commentary won’t matter much if it pays off for the Hurricanes. Want more draft-related goodness? Head over to Draft HQ

(Note: Brandon Sutter is featured in this main photo, not Brody.)