RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The Carolina Hurricanes found the physical defenseman they've been looking for.
The Hurricanes signed former Pittsburgh defenseman Josef Melichar on Wednesday to a one-year, $1 million contract. General manager Jim Rutherford said Melichar is ``a big, strong and experienced defensive defenseman who will be a shut-down player.''
The 29-year-old Melichar spent last season with Linkoping of the Swedish Elite League, finishing with 74 penalty minutes in 50 regular-season games and a team-leading 39 more minutes in the penalty box in 16 playoff games.
Melichar played in 310 games with Pittsburgh from 2000-07. The Penguins' third-round pick in 1997 had his best offensive season in 2005-06, when he had three goals and 12 assists.
Melichar's signing came on the second day of the NHL's free-agency period and 24 hours after the Hurricanes continued to retool their blue line by trading for offensive-minded defenseman Joni Pitkanen in a deal that sent fan-favorite forward Erik Cole to Edmonton.
In announcing the trade, Rutherford said he expected to sign another physical defender - and that turned out to be Melichar.
Carolina's top offseason priority has become its defense after the departure of two key veterans: Glen Wesley retired, and unrestricted free agent Bret Hedican told the team he would not return.
Spotty play on defense also has been one of the reasons the Hurricanes have missed the playoffs in each of the two seasons that followed their Stanley Cup championship in 2006.
Advertisement

Top NHL Public Bets

Advertisement

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Darling doing his finest Crawford impression The Blackhawks are missing their No. 1 netminder. Judging by the events of the last week, though, coach Joel Quenneville seems to have a...
Thumbnail Flames vs. Coyotes Prediction Will the under cash tonight when the Coyotes host the Flames at 9:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Caps, B's poised for ultra-competitive affair Despite minimal offensive contributions, Boston has captured three games in a row entering Wednesday’s matchup against Washington. Will Claude Julien’s club stay...
Thumbnail Montreal surprisingly mediocre on road Home ice has been very good to the Blues so far this season. But will the NHL’s top team put an end to the fun shortly?
Thumbnail Panthers vs. Bruins Prediction The Panthers have been a horrible bet against the Bruins but will they pull off the upset tonight at 7:00PM ET in Boston?

NHL Team Pages