The Carolina Hurricanes recently resigned defenseman Jay Harrison to a two year deal. The deal is worth $1.4 million over two years and Harrison is expected to be paid $650,000 next season and $750,000 the year after.
When the Hurricanes chose to resign Harrison, they are basically saying their goodbyes to Joni Pitkanen unless some financial miracle occurs and Pitkanen takes a super generous price cut. Harrison played in 72 games this past season and he only managed to record 10 points (3G, 7A). He averaged just over 15 minutes a game on the ice and he led all Carolina defenseman with a +5 rating.
Harrison is only 28 years old so he has a couple of more years in him. But it seems like the Hurricanes have made it clear that they want to reduce the money they are spending on defense while they wait for some of their prospects to grow up in the minors. Paul Maurice prefers to have the defensive defenseman on the blue line as opposed to the two way defenders like Pitkanen or Joe Corvo who can put the puck in the back of the net. The Canes need to minimize the number of goals they let up in 2011-2012 if they wish to make a playoff run. The Hurricanes are going to dice up their roster quite a bit for next season so it is not certain who Harrison will be paired up with on defense.
General Manager Jim Rutherford is “happy to have him back” in a Carolina uniform because he brings that strong defensive presence. Standing 6’4 and probably closer to 6’7 on skates, Harrison is not exactly the easiest player to skate through. So it appears Harrison pushed his way back into the roster because of his size and grit in his own zone. Now the bigger question is how much longer are Caniacs going to wait until Pitkanen is released or traded? These next few weeks will shape what’s going to happen in the Hurricanes organization.