RALEIGH — On the day NHL free agency began, the Carolina Hurricanes biggest announcement was the hiring of a new team president, Don Waddell.
The Canes did re-sign forward Jiri Tlusty on Tuesday to a one-year, $2.95 million deal. They picked up former Colorado Avalanche center Brad Malone, agreeing on a two-year, $1.3 million deal, and added depth at goaltender by signing Drew MacIntyre.
But general manager Ron Francis said it would be a mostly quiet day for the Canes in terms of any major moves, and quiet it was.
Peter Karmanos Jr., majority owner and chief executive officer of the Hurricanes, introduced Waddell, former general manager and president of the Atlanta Thrashers. Karmanos said the two would work together on the business side, with an immediate priority being pumping up lagging season-ticket sales.
Karmanos called Tuesday one of the more desperate days of the hockey year, adding the Canes did not act out of desperation and make expensive, splashy signings.
A lot of our brethren are out running around seeing how much money they can spend, and when the dust settles theyll figure out whether or not they have a hockey team, he said. Weve got a very good hockey team and if its necessary to add a piece or two, we have some (salary-cap) space to do that.
Two players who were on the Canes roster at least most of last season found new teams. Forward Manny Malhotra signed with the Montreal Canadiens, and goalie Justin Peters accepted a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals.
Malone, 25, was signed to replace Malhotra as the Canes fourth-line center. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Malone played 32 regular-season games and six playoff games last season for the Avs.
Hes a big guy, skates well, physical, Francis said. He had some games up top in Colorado and we think hes kind of a guy whos up-and-coming. I think he should be good for us. He can kill penalties and change the look of our fourth line with a little more size and physicality.
Francis said the Canes tried to re-sign Malhotra but said Malhotra wanted a two-year commitment. The Habs then offered Malhotra a one-year deal for $850,000, which Francis said was more than the Canes were willing to pay.
A lot of big money was being thrown around (Tuesday), Francis said.
Defenseman Brett Bellemore also was after a two-year contract, Francis said, and at a price much higher than he should be at.
The Canes added a No. 3 goalie by signing MacIntyre to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $600,000 in the NHL or $250,000 in the American Hockey League, with a guarantee of at least $300,000.
MacIntyre, 31, was 29-15-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average in 48 regular-season games for the AHLs Toronto Marlies in 2013-14. He was 10-4 with a 2.08 goals-against average in 14 Calder Cup playoff games as Toronto reached the Western Conference Final.
MacIntyre also appeared in two NHL games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, going 0-1-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average.
Francis said he talked to a lot of teams about trades involving goalie Cam Ward, but said the decision was made to go into next season with Ward and Anton Khudobin as the two goaltenders Ward with a $6.3 million salary-cap hit and Khudobin at $2.25 million.
We still believe in Cam Ward, Francis said. We thought we were better served having him in our lineup than taking some of the offers that were out there.
Tlustys contract was finalized Tuesday afternoon. Tlusty, who earned $1.7 million last season, was injured in preseason and scored 16 goals after a 23-goal season in 48 games in 2012-2013.
The Canes missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth straight season, and Karmanos said the team would show a financial loss for the 2013-2014 year. He said season-ticket sales were soft and said he wanted to boost the season-ticket base by 30 to 40 percent, to 14,000-15,000 season tickets (or equivalents).
Waddell, 55, was general manager of the Thrashers from 1998 to 2010, when he became team president, and served several roles with USA Hockey.
Waddell succeeds Jim Rutherford, who was general manager and president of the Hartford/Carolina organization for 20 years. Rutherford stepped down as GM in April, though he remained with the organization as president in an advisory role before being hired as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins in June.
Waddell said Francis would handle the hockey operations while he focused on such business tasks as raising sponsorship revenue, marketing and ticket sales.
The best marketing is winning, Karmanos said. Its a tribute to our fans theyve stuck with us as long as they have.
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