The Carolina Hurricanes continued their busy offseason on Wednesday by signing forward Patrick Dwyer to a two-year, $1.8 million extension. The new contract will pay him $900,000 in 2013-14 and 2014-15. He’ll make $650,000 next season, which will mark the end of his current deal.
“Patrick has been an excellent fit for our organization, and plays an important role for our team,” said Jim Rutherford in a press release. “He is one of our top penalty killers and provides speed for our forward lines.”
A reliable and often under-appreciated player, Dwyer, 29, was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002 in the fourth round (116th overall); he signed with the Hurricanes organization in the summer of 2006. Dwyer made his NHL debut two seasons later, earning 21 goals and 22 assists in 224 games in his career with Carolina thus far.
Dwyer’s greatest value comes on the penalty kill, and with the loss of Brandon Sutter, his role in that department will only increase in 2012-13. While Carolina as a whole finished just 22nd in the league in PK percentage in 2011-12 (80.6), Dwyer was undoubtedly a positive influence in that facet of the game.
Able to play both a physical and disciplined style, Dwyer had just 23 PIM’s last year in 73 games while registering 129 hits (good for third on the team).
Even though Dwyer may not produce much in terms of offense (he posted 5 goals and 7 assists in 2011-12), his value at the other end of the ice is far greater than many realize. The Spokane, WA native finished last year with an even plus/minus rating, making him one of just five of the team’s regulars that didn’t end up in the negatives.
And given the fact that the Hurricanes struggle to keep the puck out of their own net, extending Dwyer was all that more important. Most of Carolina’s forwards struggled at their own end of the ice last season — Dwyer was one of few exceptions.
He also finished the year with 62 blocked shots, which ranked second among Canes forwards and 22nd in the NHL.
While the additions of Jordan Staal and Alex Semin greatly improved the Canes forward corps, there has been some concern over the team’s depth beyond the top two lines. By keeping Dwyer in the mix for the next three years, however, Rutherford has locked in a veteran presence who can be counted on to give a consistent effort day in and day out.
With some inexperienced players like Jeremy Welsh, Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe looking to earn roster spots this year in the bottom six, Dwyer will looked upon to set an example for the team’s younger players.
Andrew Hirsh is a graduate of Elon University and is entering his fourth year as a credentialed NHL writer. He founded SunbeltHockey.com in 2012 and serves as the site’s managing editor. Andrew can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.