It may not have made headlines around the league last week when the Carolina Hurricanes signed veteran forward Nathan Gerbe to a one-year, two-way deal, but it could be a move that pays off in a big way for the team. Gerbe may be one of the smallest players in the league, but he plays with the tenacity of a much bigger player. He should compete for a roster spot with the Hurricanes in training camp, and at worst could be an incredibly reliable recall option if sent to the AHL.
After being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round in 2005, Gerbe was a standout at Boston College for three seasons. He scored 35 goals and had 68 points as a junior, then turned pro the next season. He has spent his entire 188-game career with the Sabres, scoring 29 goals and notching 72 points. He scored a career-high 16 goals during the 2010-11 season (64 games), but managed only six (2011-12, 62 games) and five (2013, 42 games) the next two seasons. It may have come as a bit of a surprise that the Sabres bought out the final year ($1.85 million) of his contract, but that fact will see Gerbe play with a pretty big chip on his shoulder. His contract with the Hurricanes pays $550,000 at the NHL level and $150,000 in the AHL.
The Hurricanes are in great shape offensively, with the scoring talents of Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin up front. Gerbe is a great addition as a gritty third-or-fourth-line winger, and any goals he manages to chip in will be a bonus. The Hurricanes have been pretty quiet this offseason, but this signing and bringing in Anton Khudobin as a backup goaltender could end up being two of the best low-cost offseason moves they have made in recent years.