We’re not exactly sure what prompted this, but here’s a statement from Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who hasn’t played since Apr. 2, 2013, when he shattered his heel in a game against Washington:
“I’ve been working with Raleigh Orthopaedic throughout this season with the hope of returning to play hockey. There is no timetable as of now, but I’ve been making progress with my rehab and it remains my goal to resume my professional hockey career. It’s been frustrating to be away from the ice, but I want to thank all of the people who have expressed support throughout the season.”
Pitkanen, 30, is a pending unrestricted free agent, so perhaps he put this statement out there in order to keep his name in teams’ minds.
Related: ‘He has a chance to play next year’
Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford is holding out hope that injured defenseman Joni Pitkanen could play again, perhaps even next season.
Pitkanen suffered a devastating heel injury in a violent crash into the boards on an icing call last April. He hasn’t played a game since, breaking his heel in eight different places.
In September, it was reported he would miss the entire 2013-14 season. But, according to the Hurricanes’ team blog Tracking the Storm, the 30-year-old Pitkanen is progressing from the days in September when he couldn’t even put weight on it.
“I talked to him just recently. He is doing better, but certainly not to the point that he could consider playing this year,” said Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, as per Tracking the Storm.
“Now he’s at the point where he can put a little bit of weight on it.
“I think his hopes are that he continues to progress and that he has a chance to play next year.”
According to Capgeek.com, Pitkanen is in the final year of a three-year, $13.5 million contract.
The Carolina Hurricanes could be itching to make a deal to help their ailing blue line.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the ‘Canes are offering forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Jiri Tlusty around the league and they’re hoping to land a puck-moving defenseman in return.
Ruutu has two more years left on his contract with a $4.75 million cap hit. Tlusty is in the final year of his deal which comes with a $1.6 million hit.
Not surprisingly, the Hurricanes have been in a tough spot since Joni Pitkanen broke his heel last season in a collision with the boards that shattered his heel. He’s been ruled out to play this season and the team hasn’t found someone to pick up his slack. Ron Hainsey was signed during training camp to give them a veteran to replace him, but they’re still struggling on the blue line.
This season, Carolina’s top players on defense have been Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk, and rookie Ryan Murphy. A solid, veteran presence there would do them a lot of good.