Hurricanes put Stewart on waivers

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2012 

— The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Anthony Stewart to a two-year free-agent contract after last season, hoping he could help make up for the loss of Erik Cole.

Stewart hasn't been able to do that, and on Monday he was placed on waivers, general manager Jim Rutherford said.

"With us getting a look at some guys who have been called up from Charlotte (American Hockey League) and have played well for us, we decided to put Anthony on waivers," Rutherford said. "If he is picked up by another team, it will give another opportunity to one or two players who have played well."

NHL teams have until noon today to claim Stewart from waivers. If he clears waivers, he will play Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

Coach Kirk Muller has used Stewart mostly on the fourth line, but occasionally on other lines and on the power play.

"Anthony has played pretty well for us," Rutherford said. "But part of this is (Muller) wanting guys who he thinks are a good fit, on certain lines and in certain areas."

Forwards Jerome Samson, Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash and Drayson Bowman have been recalled from the Charlotte Checkers during the past month and have been given a chance to play. Bowman is with the team on the three-game road trip and has been slotted onto Jeff Skinner's line opposite Jussi Jokinen.

Monday, the Canes reassigned Nash to the Checkers.

Stewart, 27, played for the Atlanta Thrashers last season but was not given a qualifying offer after the team relocated and became the Winnipeg Jets. Becoming an unrestricted free agent, he agreed to a deal with the Canes in July that pays him $800,000 this season and $1 million next season.

In 50 games for the Canes, Stewart has six goals and seven assists. Cole, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens after last season, had 26 goals for the Canes last season.

The Canes also have to decide what to do with forward Tuomo Ruutu, who will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Rutherford said he planned to meet with Ruutu during the road trip.

"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford said. "... We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision."

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