Tlusty signing highlights Hurricanes’ start to free agency

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – While other National Hockey League (NHL) teams were very active in signing available unrestricted free agents, the Carolina Hurricanes dipped into the pool, didn’t make enormous waves, but came out filling a few spots as needed.

“A lot of big money being thrown around,” executive vice president and general manager Francis said just two hours after the signing period opened.

“We’ll probably sit and see as the dust settles a little where things are at, and kind of go from there.”

By the end of the day, the team’s top signing was forward Jiri Tlusty staying with the team for another year as both sides agreed to a one-year contract that will pay him $2.95 million for the 2014-15 season.

Tlusty posted 30 points (16g, 14a) in 68 games played with the Hurricanes last season, ranking him second in game-winning goals with a career-high five, fourth in goals and plus/minus rating (+2), and eighth in points.

While Tlusty signed, the day seemed to be one of addition by subtraction, as center Manny Malhotra was signed by the Montreal Canadiens and goalkeeper Justin Peters inked a deal with the Washington Capitals.

With those moves, Carolina signed agreements with center Brad Malone and goalkeeper Drew MacIntyre.

“We talked with Manny and made the decision we’d like to re-sign him,” Francis said.

“We talked with him and at the point we had those discussions, he was adamant he was going to look for a two-year deal. So we started looking in a different direction. We did have some brief conversation today prior to Noon, and they said if it was a one-year deal, kind of where would it be and he ended up taking the one-year deal in Montreal. A real good guy – he was good for us last year. We wish him the best going forward.”

As Noon arrived, the Hurricanes soon began their work with the signing of Malone, a center from the Colorado Avalanche, who agreed to a two-year contract that will pay him $600,000 for the 2014-15 season and $700,000 for the 2015-16 season.

“Brad is a big, physical forward,” Francis said of the 25 year-old, six-foot-two-inch, 207-pound forward.

“He can play either center or wing and helps improve our team’s depth up front.”

Malone played in 32 regular season games for the Avalanche in 2013-14, and finished with five points (3g, 2a) to go along with 23 penalty minutes.

Following a four-year collegiate career at North Dakota, Malone was Colorado’s fifth selection, 105th overall, in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and totaled four goals, five assists (9 points) and 39 penalty minutes in 54 career NHL games played with the Avalanche.

In addition to adding depth on the fourth line, Francis also signed MacIntyre as the team’s third goaltender, primarily to lead the way with the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate club, the Charlotte Checkers.

With Peters signing with the Capitals, it was a priority to get another experienced goalkeeper to head up the top spot in Charlotte.

The team agreed to terms with MacIntyre on a one-year, two-way contract that would pay the veteran netminder $600,000 in the NHL or $250,000 in the AHL for the 2014-15 season, with a guarantee of at least $300,000.

As a two-time AHL All-Star, he’s appeared in 353 career AHL games, posting a 192-117-21 with a 2.43 goals-against average, and posted a 29-15-3 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 48 regular season games for the Toronto Marlies in last season.

“Drew had a strong season last year and provides veteran depth for our organization in net,” Francis said.

Drafted as a second pick by Detroit, 121st overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, MacIntyre has played six NHL games with Vancouver, Buffalo and Toronto, registering a 2.41 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Even though he saw brief NHL playing time, appearing in two games for the Maple Leafs, going 0-1-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, the majority and most notable part of MacIntyre’s 2013-2014 season was spent with the Marlies.

He accumulated a 10-4 slate with a 2.08 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 14 Calder Cup playoff games and helped Toronto reach the Western Conference Final before falling to eventual Calder Cup Champion Texas in seven games.

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