RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes opened free agency by giving one-year contracts to veteran defenceman Mike Komisarek and backup goalie Anton Khudobin.
The deals announced Friday will pay Komisarek $700,000 and Khudobin $800,000.
The moves address two of the Hurricanes’ top priorities this off-season—bolstering their defence, and finding an affordable backup for All-Star goalie Cam Ward.
Earlier this week, they picked up defenceman Andrej Sekera in a draft-day trade with Buffalo for defenceman Jamie McBain.
General manager Jim Rutherford says he feels “pretty good that the Hurricanes have improved their team” while expressing confidence that first-round draft pick Elias Lindholm, a forward, will make the team during preseason camp.
The 31-year-old Komisarek played just four games for Toronto last season and spent part of the year in the minor leagues.
The Maple Leafs made him a free agent by buying out the final year of the five-year, $22.5 million contract he signed before the 2009-10 season.
“I didn’t get off on the right foot and sort of never recovered from there,” Komisarek said in a conference call with reporters. “It wasn’t working out, bottom line. We’re in the business of results and producing and it just didn’t happen.”
He has 14 goals and 63 assists in 519 career games with Toronto and Montreal.
He called the Hurricanes “definitely the best fit” in part because Carolina coach Kirk Muller was an assistant with the Canadiens during Komisarek’s time in Montreal. In praising his management style, Komisarek leaked the coach’s nickname: “Kirkie.”
“It was a no-brainer for me,” Komisarek said.
Khudobin was 8-4-1 with a 2.32 GAA in 14 games as Tuukka Rask’s backup in Boston.
He takes over as Ward’s backup after last year’s No. 2 goalie, Dan Ellis, signed a two-year, $1.8 million deal with Dallas. He made $650,000 last year with Carolina.
Ellis was 6-8 with a 3.13 GAA and ended last season as the Hurricanes’ top goalie after Ward missed the last two months with a sprained left knee.
Rutherford also said “the door is pretty much closed” on bringing back unrestricted free agent forwards Chad LaRose or Tim Brent because, with the team’s high expectations for Lindholm, the Hurricanes’ depth chart at forward has been all but filled.
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