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Another defenseman drops off market as Joni Pitkanen returns to Hurricanes 06.28.11 at 5:33 pm ET
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The list of solid free agent defensemen gets smaller with each passing day, as the Hurricanes have retained Joni Pitkanen on a three-year deal, according to multiple reports. ESPN.com has the deal carrying a $4.5 million annual cap hit.

That makes two good blueliners to pass on the open market in the last two days, as Kevin Bieksa re-upped with the Canucks for five years and $23 million on Monday. These signings will continue to push Tomas Kaberle higher on the list of coveted free-agent defensemen, as Christian Ehrhoff, James Wisniewski and Kaberle now make up the big three amongst remaining blueliners.

Free agency begins Friday, and Peter Chiarelli has maintained that he’s been in contact with Kaberle’s agent, Rick Curran. The 33-year-old had a $4.25 million cap hit last season and should see a pay decrease. It appeared he might have made significantly less based on his performance for most of his time with the Bruins, but if supply and demand works in his favor, a team could overpay to land him.

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