RALEIGH — Carolina Hurricanes forward Pat Dwyer has signed a new two-year contract extension that provides a degree of financial security. Thats comforting.
But in terms of professional security, of having made it as an NHL player, Dwyer says theres still some uneasiness in making that claim.
"When you sign a contract like that theres a sensing of making it," Dwyer said Thursday. "But every year theres young guys coming up and players developing and pushing for spots, so theres still that feeling in your stomach that someones looking right over your shoulder and youve got to push yourself, and youve got to be ready to play and ready to prove yourself."
Dwyer, 29, quietly goes about his business, putting in the work and doing all the little things that teammates and coaches appreciate.
Hes fast. He kills penalties. Hes all about energy.
"He can play any role," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He can play in the top nine. He has played center at times, even with little experience there. Hes tremendous killing penalties. He really understands the game."
In 73 games last season, Dwyer had five goals two shorthanded and seven assists. Modest numbers, perhaps, but Dwyers effective play was recognized when he was invited to compete for Team USA in the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Sweden and Finland.
Dwyer played in eight games and had a goal and three assists. The goal came on a nifty wraparound against Canes goalie Cam Ward and Team Canada.
Dwyer said he and Ward later "laughed and giggled and joked" about the goal after the game in Helsinki. No hard feelings. As for his first international experience, he called it invaluable, especially in skating on larger European rinks.
"To go play at that stage ... you know you can play in the NHL and stuff, but you get on that bigger ice with that European skill and the Canadian skill and the U.S. skill, I think its good for the confidence coming into this season," he said. "You know you can play at that level and you want to push it even further here."
The Hurricanes believe Dwyer can do that. Hell make $625,000 this season, but his two-year extension will bump his salary to $900,000 in each of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Like his teammates, Dwyer isnt sure when a new league CBA will be approved and the troublesome issue put to rest, or if this season will start on schedule. The Canes are due to open training camp Sept. 21 and open the regular season Oct. 13 against Winnipeg.
Regardless of a starting date, Dwyer said hed be ready when the puck drops.
"My role is to be a sound defensive hockey player," he said. "Whether its third line or fourth line, its just go out and create the energy and be a sound penalty killer and help get the Eric Staals and Jordan Staals and guys like that rest on the P.K., so when it is five-on-five or on the power play theyve got the energy."