Anton Babchuk has come back. Well, back to Raleigh. Back to talk with the Canes.
General manager Jim Rutherford said today that Babchuk and his agent recently came to Raleigh to discuss the defenseman signing a new contract and returning to Carolina next season. Babchuk played last season with Avangard Omsk (KHL) in Russia.
"It was a very productive meeting," Rutherford said. "We can't sign him until July 1 because he played in Europe last year, but I'm very comfortable we will sign him at that point."
Rutherford said he would meet next week with veteran winger Ray Whitney to discuss his future with the team. Whitney is due to be an unrestricted free agent and has indicated he would like to return to the Canes next season. Rutherford has said the team would like Whitney back if the finances fit.
Rutherford said no decision had been made on forward Sergei Samsonov. The 31-year-old winger has one year left on a contract that will him $2.8 million next season, but there is a possibility the team could look to trade him or consider buying out his contract.
"We're still working through that," Rutherford said. "We have decisions to make on Sergei, Ray and Roddy (Brind'Amour)."
Rutherford said nothing yet had been decided on offering contracts to goaltender Manny Legace or defenseman Brian Pothier. Both will be unrestricted free agents.
Rutherford said the Canes "definitely will not be active on the free-agent market" come July 1.
"We want to give our younger players opportunities to play," he said, although noting he would not completely rule out signing a free agent.