RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason was trying to find the right words, trying to best describe his feelings about signing a contract extension Monday, when forward Chad LaRose chimed in from across the RBC Center locker room.
"Cha-ching, cha-ching," LaRose shouted. "Hey, Gleas, cha-ching."
Gleason, who had his game face firmly in place for such a serious subject, couldn't help but break into smile, finally saying he somehow had forgotten the question. But, in truth, it was a very satisfied smile.
With the stroke of the pen Monday, Gleason agreed to a four-year extension that will pay him a total of $16 million - $3.5 million in 2012-13, $4.5 million in 2013-14 and in 2014-15, and $3.5 million in 2015-16 - and offer him solid financial security. He also ended the unrelenting trade speculation that had become almost overbearing in the past month.
Due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, Gleason, 29, was said to be sought after by the Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames ... it was a growing list of teams.
"It's kind of a nightmare, but it comes with the territory," Gleason said. "I thought I was going somewhere every day for the last month."
But Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford put an end to that Monday, ending his longstanding policy of not re-signing players during a season.
"This was a first for me," Rutherford said. "This is an exception to everything I've done in the past. But there were so many (trade) rumors out there about Tim.
"When we look at Tim, we look at him as a core player, one of our (alternate) captains, one of our leaders. Bringing this to closure made a lot of sense and I'm happy he decided to do it."
Gleason is in his eighth NHL season and his sixth with the Canes. A member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team, he leads the Carolina defensemen in hits (87), plus/minus rating (plus-2) and minutes played (1,063).
"He plays the game the right way," rookie defenseman Justin Faulk said. "He plays gritty, he plays hard, he steps in for teammates. He's well-respected in the room."
Rutherford said Gleason has a no-trade clause in each of the first two seasons of the extension.
"That's not to say we might want to trade him in year three or four," Rutherford said. "But in the (NHL salary) cap system, that gives us some flexibility."
Gleason said the length of contract was a factor in signing. And the money, which made fiscal sense for both sides. Married and a father, Gleason emphasized his family enjoys living in Raleigh.
"If I was by myself, it would be a kind of a 'whatever' thing," Gleason said. "But having a family and having them like it here, it's a huge input in our decision.
"And with the core of players we have here, the team that we have, the way we're going forward and how things have changed around the last month or two, it's something you have to look at, too."
The Hurricanes (18-24-9) will face the New York Islanders tonight after a week-long break for the NHL All-Star Game. The Canes topped the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in their last game before the break, and would finish off a 6-3-3 January with a victory tonight.
But if Gleason no longer is a trade possibility, there still are others. Rutherford said Monday he expected a "busy week" as teams start looking to make personnel moves after the break.
The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 27, and Rutherford noted, "With less than a month to the deadline, this is when it really picks up."
Canes forward Tuomo Ruutu and defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen will be unrestricted free agents after the season. Like Gleason, their names have been a part of the trade scuttlebutt, with Ruutu's now at the head of the list.
"It's the same old," said Allen, who was traded to the Canes from the Florida Panthers last season. "Everyone knows this is media driven and everyone and anyone is making up a rumor. Everyone here knows who's more likely to be traded, but it's something you have to accept as part of the business."
NOTE: The Hurricanes recalled forward Riley Nash from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. It's the second NHL recall for Nash, 22, who notched one assist in two games for the Canes in December.