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.

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Meandering Los Angeles tries to find its way Currently one of three winless squads in the NHL, the Kings are hurting in a big way. And we’re not just talking about the injury to their most important...
Thumbnail Chicago still searching for vintage form Joel Quenneville understood he’d have to get contributions from some unlikely sources in 2016-17. Yet Chicago’s coach surely didn’t count on Richard Panik...
Thumbnail Retooled Boston bunch marches into Canada Some wondered whether David Backes would endure a downtick in production after leaving the only team he had ever known over the summer. Clearly, though,...
Thumbnail Undefeated San Jose surges toward Big Apple The Rangers are pelting their opponents with rubber through the first two games of the season. Can Alain Vigneault’s club manage to deposit more of those...
Thumbnail Vancouver shoots for two Ws in a row Bill Peters can’t guarantee if Sebastian Aho will spend the entire season in Raleigh. Yet Carolina’s coach has no problem riding the...
More inNHL Articles  

NHL Team Pages