Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford anticipated a quiet holiday weekend, a day after the free agent signing period opened.
Rutherford, who heard from the agent of former Hurricanes defenseman Joe Corvo on Thursday, said it didn’t look likely that Corvo would return. Rutherford would like to have the Oak Park, Ill., native back in the Carolina fold, but Corvo is looking for more money than the Hurricanes can afford.
“It looks like he’s going to be out of our reach,” he said.
Rutherford said defensemen Alexandre Picard and Brett Carson were still options. The team offered the free agents contracts that would have removed their minor league clauses early this week. When the sides couldn’t agree on money, the Hurricanes elected not to qualify the offers, which would have given the players arbitration rights. As a result, they both became unrestricted free agents on Thursday.
“They’re still in the mix,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said acquiring a defenseman is a big priority, but he is patient and willing to wait to see what shakes out.
On Thursday, he listed the defensive pairings as they still stand today, with Tim Gleason and rookie Jamie McBain, Joni Pitkanen with Anton Babchuk, and Jay Harrison with a player to be determined. On Friday, Rutherford acknowledged that Bobby Sanguinetti, who the Hurricanes acquired in a trade during the draft, could be in the mix for the sixth defensive spot.
Sanguinetti, with three AHL seasons under his wings, has played in only five NHL games, all last season with the New York Rangers. Of course, that’s all the NHL experience Carson had coming into last season, when he saw action in 54 games with the Hurricanes, scoring a pair of goals and 10 assists.
But acquiring another top-4 defenseman would allow the young McBain to go down with Harrison and be eased into the NHL fire. Rutherford also needs to beef up defensive depth in case there’s injuries.
“He’s clearly a top-4 guy,” Rutherford said of McBain, the Canes’ first pick of the 2006 draft (63rd overall). “But we want to do what’s right for his development. That being said, we feel completely comfortable with him paired with Gleason. We just need more depth.”