Canes get their defenseman

Staff writerNovember 18, 2010 

— It didn't take Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford long to make a move.

A day after saying personnel moves could soon be made, after saying a trade for a defenseman was being considered, Rutherford finalized a deal Wednesday with the Calgary Flames that brought defenseman Ian White and forward Brett Sutter to Carolina in exchange for defenseman Anton Babchuk and forward Tom Kostopoulos.

Rutherford said he had talked to Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter since early in the season about acquiring White and Brett Sutter, Darryl's son. But he said the Canes' 8-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last Thursday, followed by a 7-2 whipping Saturday in Montreal against the Canadiens, hastened the decision.

"Darn right," Rutherford said Wednesday. "It's been on my mind for a while, and I would have done it anyways, but the sooner the better.

"I mean, we were embarrassed in a couple of games. I said all along we were going to have some ups and downs in the season, but ... I didn't like the way those two games went.

"We said all along we were thin on the blue line. It showed up last week and the last couple of games, and we felt that we needed one more experienced defenseman to play in the top four, and Ian White fits that."

White, 26, played for Canes coach Paul Maurice when Maurice coached the Toronto Maple Leafs. White went to Calgary last season in the Jan. 31 multi-player megatrade that sent Dion Phanuef to the Maple Leafs, and he had career highs in goals (13), assists (25) and points (38) last season with the Leafs and Flames.

But White, a 5-foot-10 190-pounder, has struggled this season, producing two goals and four assists in 16 games, and he is minus-10 in the plus/minus rating. When the Flames agreed to five-year contract extension with defenseman Mark Giordano last month, White - in the final year of a contract that pays him $5 less than $3 million - became available.

"He's a puck-moving defenseman and all-around pretty competitive guy," Maurice said. "... We think of him as a guy who will fit real well with Joni Pitkanen. Or Tim Gleason, and he's played with Jay Harrison before.

"He should be able to play with any of our group and maybe settle us a little bit back there. ... It should bring some balance to our blue line. With where we're at with our back end, we need a little bit more of a stabilizing player."

Sutter, 23, is the cousin of Canes center Brandon Sutter and will be assigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. A week ago, Sutter was charged with assault after an incident outside a Scottsdale, Ariz., bar. He is alleged to have punched a cab driver while being intoxicated.

Brett Sutter has since made a public apology. Brandon Sutter said Wednesday of his cousin, "It's not his character or anything like that. Definitely a one-time thing."

Rutherford said the tradeoff of salaries in Wednesday's deal would cost the Hurricanes about $400,000 this year. He noted that Sutter, a sixth-round draft pick by Calgary in 2005, was always a part of the trade talks - before and after the incident in Arizona.

Brandon Sutter, an alternate captain for the Hurricanes, said it was hard saying goodbye to players such as Kostopoulos, 31, and Babchuk, 26.

"It's a shakeup but that's the way this business works at times," Sutter said. "It's tough, but you've got to move on. We're adding an experienced defenseman in White who's a pretty good player, and my cousin is a hard worker and hopefully he'll be good for us."

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