Hurricanes stand pat on deadline day

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 28, 2012 

— The Carolina Hurricanes took a pass Monday. On the NHL's trade deadline, the Hurricanes decided to stand pat, not making any deals.

Defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen are due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and many in the league assumed that either or both would be traded. General manager Jim Rutherford said Sunday it was possible the team might be interested in a trade involving a player or players under contract for next season with the Canes.

But the 3 p.m. deadline came and went without a move.

"For the most part we felt we were going to keep most of the players we had," Rutherford said. "We really didn't talk about very many. Teams called asking what it would take to get Spacek, then you'd learn they took somebody else."

Rutherford said there were no offers for Allen, who has a no-trade clause in his contract.

Rutherford noted the Canes have until July 1 to re-sign Allen before NHL free agency begins. He said he's hopeful the two sides can reach an agreement that "makes sense" and keep the rugged defenseman.

"Based on what he has done for our team and where he fits on our team, it makes more sense that we keep that right to negotiate a contract with him until July instead of trading him away and taking the chance of doing it as any other team would with a free agent," Rutherford said.

Rutherford said the Canes may consider re-signing Spacek, possibly to a one-year contract, if Spacek is interested. Carolina obtained Spacek, 38, from Montreal on Dec. 9 in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Rutherford said he was "more than OK" with not making any trades Monday. A year ago, the Canes acquired Allen on the trade deadline in a deal with the Florida Panthers.

"We've got some work to do here and we certainly need to add another player or two for our team to get to where we need to get to, to be a top-tier team going forward next year," he said.

Rutherford said a priority before next season would be obtaining a "top-flight forward" to play on Eric Staal's line, and noted the Hurricanes could be willing to go after a high-priced free agent.

Both Allen and Spacek are popular with teammates, and both said they hoped to stay with the Canes. Spacek said the Hurricanes have shown steady improvement under Muller, who was named coach on Nov. 28.

"I can see it in the guys," he said. "When I got here they didn't have much confidence and didn't believe they would win close games. But guys believe we can win, are playing with much more confidence and it's more fun."

The Hurricanes (23-26-13) didn't have fun in their last game, losing a 2-0 lead late in regulation Saturday against the Panthers and then losing 3-2 in a shootout. Carolina, which faces the Nashville Predators tonight at the RBC Center, was nine points out of playoff position before Monday's games.

Muller said Monday goalie Cam Ward could start tonight. Ward has been sidelined the past three games with a lower-body injury but had a strong practice Monday.

Forwards Tuomo Ruutu, Chad LaRose and Patrick Dwyer will not be available because of injuries. Dwyer suffered a lower-body injury Saturday and could be out a couple of weeks, Rutherford said.

The Canes on Monday recalled forward Zach Boychuk on an emergency basis from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL. It's Boychuk's first recall under Muller - he played 13 games in October and November under former coach Paul Maurice.

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen has been out since early December, recovering from a concussion and knee surgery. Rutherford said Pitkanen began skating Monday but it will be two or three weeks before playing again.

"We're starting to get thin. It's showing in the last couple of games," Rutherford said.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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