The Carolina Hurricanes have taken one potential trade target off the board.
The Canes on Sunday signed veteran center Jay McClement to a two-year contract extension that will pay him $1.3 million in the 2015-16 season and $1.1 million in 2016-17.
McClement was to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. His signing comes a day before the NHL trade deadline Monday – McClement’s 32nd birthday.
“Jay has played really well for us on the ice and been a real good guy for us in the locker room,” general manager Ron Francis said Sunday. “He’s been good on draws and a big part of our penalty killing. He’s just the consummate pro and has been a good role model for our younger guys in the way he takes care of himself and the way he prepares for games.”
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The Canes traded three pending unrestricted free agents this past week, sending defenseman Andrej Sekera to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Jiri Tlusty to the Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Tim Gleason to the Washington Capitals. Patrick Dwyer and defenseman Brett Bellemore also will be unrestricted free agents.
McClement could have been been a valuable addition for a team headed to the playoffs. He has centered a hard-working and effective fourth line with Dwyer and Brad Malone. He scored two goals Saturday – and was named the game’s first star – in the 5-3 road win against the New York Islanders.
Francis said he had an ongoing “dialogue” with McClement and his agent. McClement, who played for St. Louis, Colorado and Toronto during an NHL career that began in 2005, signed a one-year, $1 million free-agent contract with Carolina in July 2014.
He has six goals and 12 assists in 61 games for Carolina this season and is plus-3.
Francis, asked how active the Hurricanes would be Monday leading up to the 3 p.m. trade deadline, said, “I do not think we’ll be very busy.” He has said he did not expect to trade any players with terms left on their contracts after this season.
The Hurricanes, who have a three-game winning streak, are in Chicago and will face the Blackhawks on Monday at the United Center to end a two-game road trip.
McClement this past week talked about the team’s trying to win while going through personnel changes, saying, “It’s a challenge. There are games still to be played and you have to play with a lot of pride. It’s tough, because you know you might have a bare-bones roster and things will change.”
At the time, McClement didn’t know what the week would hold for him. Turns out, he’s staying put.