Joni Pitkanen Avoids Free Agency, Signs Three-Year Deal With Carolina Hurricanes

Joni Pitkanen is staying in Carolina. One of the most sought-after free agent defensemen won't get to July 1 without a contract, as he's signed a three-year deal with the Hurricanes.

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Joni Pitkanen Avoids Free Agency, Signs Three-Year Deal With Carolina Hurricanes

One of the most sought-after defensemen in the 2011 NHL free agent market won't be joining the July 1 party. Joni Pitkanen of the Carolina Hurricanes will remain Joni Pitkanen of the Carolina Hurricanes, having signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal with the club on Tuesday.

Pitkanen has been a member of the 'Canes for the last three seasons, and he's progressively grown as a defenseman sin that time. He's their No. 1 player at the position and it certainly seems like he's taken a bit of a pay cut to stay there, which could help explain the relatively short term of the deal.

It seemed almost certain that Pitkanen was going to test the free agent market, and there was a large belief that he'd go to the Detroit Red Wings to join Nicklas Lidstrom and replace the retired Brian Rafalski -- likely for more than $4.5 million a year. 

But instead, he stays in Carolina. For more on the Hurricanes, check in with SB Nation's Canes Country.

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