RALEIGH — While making a long-term commitment to keep forward Alexander Semin, the Carolina Hurricanes may soon be parting with another veteran forward.
The Hurricanes on Tuesday placed Jussi Jokinen on waivers. NHL teams have until noon Wednesday to claim Jokinen, who has scored some of the most memorable goals in franchise history.
The Canes also placed forward Tim Wallace on waivers with the purpose of reassigning him to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
Jokinen was not at the morning skate at PNC Arena on Tuesday as the Hurricanes prepared for their game against the Winnipeg Jets. It’s possible he has played his last game for an organization he joined in February 2009, when he was traded to Carolina by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Much of the media attention was directed at Semin, who agreed Monday to a five-year, $35 million contract extension.
“I’m very happy to sign here with this organization, this team,” Semin said. “I like the Carolina fans, this city, everything. I like playing here. This is a good place for me to play hockey.
“Good team for me. It’s a new life.”
For the first seven years of the Russian’s career, his life in the U.S. was in Washington, D.C., playing for the Washington Capitals. He was a first-round draft pick, had a 40-goal season for the Caps and became an NHL standout.
But after last season, Semin became an unrestricted free agent. He chose to sign a one-year, $7 million contract with the Canes, then had to wait until January and the end of the NHL lockout to make his debut.
Semin, 29, said Tuesday he knew after a couple of games that he was comfortable with his new team and that he would like to stay. He instantly took a liking to Canes coach Kirk Muller, who can be direct and honest with his players.
“I like playing for Kirk,” Semin said. “He suggests (things) for me and he helps me and supports me every time. Everybody on the team is good off-ice.”
Semin said signing the extension during the season would enable him to “forget it and play hockey.” That’s what he does best, joining with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty to form one of the league’s most productive lines.
“We’re extremely happy,” Muller said. “We looked at it and here’s a guy who makes our team better. It’s a nice commitment by our side. It’s our organization saying, ‘We’re willing to make a commitment for you to be here and be a part of the ongoing process we’re trying to achieve here in Carolina.’ ”
Jokinen, 29, has one year remaining on a contract that has a $3 million salary cap hit next year. His offensive production has tailed off this season – he has five goals and five assists, but is without a point the past six games – and he has a minus-7 plus/minus rating.
Jokinen was a big part of the Canes’ run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009, scoring the goal with less then a second to play that won Game 4 in the opening-round series against New Jersey.