30-Year-Old Defenseman – Carolina Hurricanes
Joni Pitkanen Contract Information:
Signed a three-year deal with Carolina in June 2011, valued at $4.5 million per season.
Pitkanen (heel) remains without a return timetable.
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Age is determined on October 1st of each season.No Yes
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Pitkanen is an oft-injured veteran who doesn’t fight, and produces points only sporatically. Yet despite the aforementioned headaches, the 28 year-old defender possesses undeniable talent, and makes for a decent value pick if you're not adverse to risk in the later rounds. Playing just 30 games last season due to injury, Pitkanen's points-per-game ratio was solid, as he managed 17 points. You know what you're going to get with Pitkanen, just don't expect much more.
After a roller-coaster offseason filled with mixed reports on whether or not he would re-up with Carolina, Pitkanen put ink to paper on a new three-year, $13.5 million deal with the club in June. The former first-round draft pick has yet to play a full 82-game schedule, but the veteran has been a productive two-way defender over the years, and has 81 points over the last two seasons. Pitkanen will anchor a Carolina defense, presumably alongside the young but talented Jamie McBain.
Pitkanen will be counted on for plenty of offensive blitzes on a blue line that is sorely in need of scoring help. His ability to make plays from the back end makes him a valuable commodity, especially with Joe Corvo, his fellow rearguard, back in Raleigh. Health can sometimes be an issue for Pitkanen, but away from the IR, a 50-point season could be in store for the defenseman.
Stomach bouts of inconsistency and the occasional injury to reap in benefits of being a Pitkanen owner: This mobile rearguard will log plenty of ice time per game and should use his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to create opportunities with the puck. Moreover, the 'Canes are spending a pretty penny on his services -- $4 million in 2009-10 to be exact -- so it's safe to say he'll be heavily utilized in many different situations on the ice, including the man advantage. He loses Babchuk as a linemate, but Aaron Ward is back in town to feed Pitkanen some puck.
The Hurricanes didn't trade for Pitkanen in hopes of acquiring a stay-at-home rearguard. He's there to move the puck, and will probably respond with a healthy number of assists and a few goals, many of those points coming on the power play. At 25, he's still developing, and his most productive years are ahead of him.
Pitkanen has posted 40 or more points in each of the last two seasons and will only be 24 when training camp rolls around. Team him up with Sheldon Souray on the point and you've got the makings of a dynamic blue-line duo. He'll gobble up plenty of power-play time as well, so expect an increase in his 17 power-play helpers from last season. We see no reason to expect him to not hit the 40-point plateau for a third straight year.
Pitkanen is one of the most talented young defenders in the league and seems primed for a career year this season. He struggles with injuries at times, but he should be a early selection in your draft.
Should be a fantasy stud for years to come - but it won't necessarily start this year, due to the Flyers' depth on the blueline. Still, a 35-point season is achievable.