The Hurricanes have re-signed defenseman Joni Pitkanen to a three-year contract that will pay him $4.5 million per season, general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday.
Pitkanen was due to become an unrestricted free agent Friday. He made $4.5 million last year and will remain the Canes' highest-paid defenseman.
"This is an important signing for us," Rutherford said. "Joni plays as many minutes as anyone in the league. It's hard to find players who play as much as he does and he's one of the top puck-moving defensemen in the league. We're really thankful he decided to come back to us."
Pitkanen, 27, led all Hurricanes defenseman in assists (30) and was second among Carolina blueliners in points (35), skating in 72 of the team’s 82 games during the 2010-11 season.
The Oulu, Finland, native ranked 13th in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:01), and the Hurricanes earned points in 26 of the 30 games in which he had a point (21-4-5).