After breakout season, Canes sign Tlusty to two-year deal

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 23, 2012 

— It didn’t take long for the Carolina Hurricanes to come to terms with forward Jiri Tlusty.

Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday that Tlusty, a restricted free agent, signed a two-year contract worth $3.2 million. The deal will pay Tlusty $1.5 million next season and $1.7 million in the 2013-2014 season, Rutherford said.

Tlusty, 24, had 17 goals, 19 assists and 36 points – all career highs – while also setting a personal best by playing 79 games this season. He was used on the wing on Eric Staal’s line late in the season and gave the Canes strong two-way play.

“We’re really pleased to get this done,” Rutherford said. “Jiri had a breakout year for us, and that’s not based just on the career highs he had. It’s also the fact he played on Staal’s line and showed he was capable of playing with the other team’s top players.”

Tlusty, who earned $525,000 last season, was a former first-round draft pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006. Traded by the Leafs to Carolina in December 2009 for Philippe Paradis, Tlusty has been slowed at times by knee and shoulder injuries.

“Sometimes we forget how young he is,” Rutherford said. “He’s still a young player. There’s still room for him to make an even bigger jump.

“He’s battled some injuries and a part of that is because of the way he competes. I think he’s capable of scoring 20 or more (goals) if he continues to compete as he has and stays healthy for 82 games.”

Canes sign Schmitz

The Hurricanes on Monday signed free-agent defenseman Beau Schmitz to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The deal will pay Schmitz $525,000 per year at the NHL level, or $50,000 per year at the minor-league level, as well as a $50,000 signing bonus.

Schmitz is expected to begin next season with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.

Schmitz, 21, completed his fourth season of major-junior hockey in 2011-12, leading all Plymouth Whalers defensemen in goals (14), assists (40) and points (54).

He was tied for third among Ontario Hockey League skaters with a plus-37 plus/minus rating, playing in 62 regular-season games.

Schmitz, listed at 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds, served as the Whalers’ captain in 2011-12.

In four seasons with the Plymouth Whalers, Schmitz had 151 points and accumulated 350 penalty minutes in 244 career OHL regular-season games.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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