Canes sign two defensemen to new deals

calexander@newsobserver.comMay 22, 2012 

— The Carolina Hurricanes have signed defensemen Jamie McBain and Bobby Sanguinetti to new contracts.

The question now: will both be in the Canes’ lineup next season?

McBain will be. At age 24, the former University of Wisconsin standout played 76 games for the Hurricanes in each of the past two seasons and has become a regular.

McBain on Monday agreed to a two-year contract that will pay him $1.7 million next season and $1.9 million in the 2013-2014 season.

"Jamie has established himself as an NHL defenseman," general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday. "What we’d like to see is for him to become a more consistent player and continue to improve. I really think he can get 40 or 50 points a season. He has the skills to do that."

McBain had eight goals and 19 assists last season, his third as a professional, leading the Canes’ defensemen in assists and points while accumulating just four penalty minutes. He had seven goals and 23 assists in the 2010-2011 season.

McBain was a restricted free agent, but the Hurricanes decided to sign him to a two-year deal at a higher salary rather than making him a standard qualifying offer.

Sanguinetti, 24, signed a one-year, two-way contract Monday and will make $700,000 at the NHL level or $105,000 at the American Hockey League level. Sanguinetti had 10 goals and 40 assists in 60 games last season for the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes’ top minor-league affiliate.

A former first-round draft pick by the New York Rangers, Sanguinetti made his NHL debut March 13 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and played three games for the Canes.

Like McBain, Sanguinetti is a puck-moving defensemen with an offensive flair. With defensemen Bryan Allen or Jaroslav Spacek both due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and the Canes possibly not re-signing either of the veterans, Sanguinetti could make a strong push for a roster spot next season.

"We really like the way he played in the second half of the season in Charlotte," Rutherford said.

Rutherford said it was likely Allen would test free-agency in July, saying the defenseman was not comfortable with the multi-year contract offer made by the Canes. He said the Hurricanes may re-sign Spacek but were in no rush to get a contract done.

The Hurricanes had one other minor-league signing Monday as forward Nicolas Blanchard agreed to a two-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay him $525,000 at the NHL level or $105,000 at the minor-league level, with a guarantee of $125,000 per season.

Blanchard, 24, finished his fifth professional season with nine goals, 12 assists and 103 penalty minutes in 68 games for Charlotte. Ron Francis, the Canes’ director of hockey operations, called Blanchard a "physical and reliable forward" who was a leader for the Checkers and well-respected by his teammates.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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