Hurricanes GM on injured Pitkanen: ‘He has a chance to play next year’

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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.