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Albany "Potentially Close" To Getting AHL Team Back

When Hurricanes executives Jim Rutherford and Jason Karmanos joined Charlotte Checkers owner Michael Kahn to announce that the Canes AHL affiliate was coming to the state, the news came with cheers from most hockey fans in North Carolina. Not cheering? The people of Albany, N.Y., who were losing not only the players they had grown accustomed to courtesy the relationship with the Hurricanes, but also their AHL franchise. But according to a report Tuesday from the Albany Times Union, the city could land a replacement for the River Rats by the first week in March. Bob Belber, the general manager of the Times Union Center, told the TImes Union that the arena has been in talks with a current AHL team — reportedly the Portland (Maine) Pirates — and that a deal could be in place by the first week in March, if all the details can be ironed out. One minor but noteworthy item still on the table: whether or not the River Rats name would live on. The Pirates are the affiliate for the Sabres, and given the proximity of Albany to Buffalo — about four and a half hours, weather permitting — the teams would benefit from a similar relationship that the Hurricanes and Checkers will have next season.

Casey Borer Cleared To Play

Albany defenseman Casey Borer, who has not played since the Feb. 19, 2009, River Rats bus crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike, has been medically cleared to resume his career. Borer, who was called up to the Hurricanes in both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, could play as early as Friday.

Beau Schmitz Not Under Contract

Rat Byte over at The Infestation has a correction from Kyle Hanlin at the Canes: Beau Schmitz is not under contract with the River Rats. Hanlin had mentioned in passing in a post from Traverse City that Schmitz was on a two-way AHL/ECHL contract. It turns out it was an honest mistake. So expect Schmitz back with Plymouth this season.

Another Whale Of A Signing: River Rats Ink Beau Schmitz To Two-Way Deal

Defenseman Beau Schmitz — who was an unsigned invitee to the Hurricanes' prospect conditioning camp and is currently playing in the Traverse City Tournament for Carolina — recently signed a two-way AHL/ECHL deal with the Albany River Rats, the Canes' AHL affiliate. Schmitz, who played for the Peter Karmanos-owned Plymouth Whalers last season, is an undersized (5-9, 185 pounds) blueliner who has some offensive upside. Although he went undrafted in the June, International Scouting Services ranked him No. 175 and had him as the fifth-most underrated player in the draft. A big thanks to Rat Byte at The Infestation for the heads up.

River Rats Add D Depth With Signing Of Jonathan Paiement

Our new friend Rat Byte at The Infestation — a blog covering the River Rats that is really doing some great work — is reporting that Jonathan Paiement has signed a deal with the Rats. Paiement was among those injured in the February bus crash — Casey Borer, Joe Jensen and Nicolas Blanchard were the other players badly hurt — but had made an impression last year. His addition as a potential top-six d-man may point to the Hurricanes planning on having one of their young blueliners — perhaps Brett Carson or Bryan Rodney — in Raleigh next season. Again, be sure to visit The Infestation for up-to-date Rats news.

Prospect Mark Flood Signs With The Islanders

River Rats defenseman Mark Flood, acquired in late 2006 for fellow blueliner Derrick Walser, signed with the New York Islanders the end of last week. The 24-year-old played the past two and a half seasons with Carolina's AHL affiliate in Albany, but found himself behind several other prospects in the organizational pecking order. His departure should open up more playing time for first-year pro Jamie McBain, a former second-round pick who signed with the Hurricanes following his junior season at the University of Wisconsin. McBain, Brett Carson, Casey Borer and Bryan Rodney could battle for a roster spot in Raleigh this preseason, but if they can't make the leap to the NHL in October should form a formidable top two pairings for the Rats.

Canes Press Release - Brandon Sutter Reassigned to Albany

RALEIGH, NC—Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has reassigned center Brandon Sutter to the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League (AHL). Sutter, 20, netted three goals and earned an assist (4 points) in seven games during his first stint with Albany from Feb. 25-March 9. He earned a plus-2 plus/minus rating and scored a power-play goal and a shorthanded tally for the Rats. The Huntington, NY, native is in his first full professional season, and has notched one goal and earned five assists (6 points) in 50 games with the Hurricanes. Sutter (6’3", 183 lbs.) joined Carolina this season after completing his junior hockey career with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League in 2007-08. He scored 68 goals and earned 86 assists (154 points) in 205 career regular-season games with Red Deer, before joining Albany for the end of the 2007-08 regular season and the River Rats’ playoff series against the Philadelphia Phantoms. Carolina drafted Sutter in the first round, 11th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Canes Top 20 Prospects

The Top 20 prospects articles are among the toughest things I write all year. It is so hard to access players at such a young age, but the one thing I can say is the pool of talent is much deeper than it's been in a long time.

Casey Borer out for the year

The Daily Gazette has updates on the players injured in the River Rats bus crash. Defenseman Casey Borer suffered what coach Jeff Daniels believes is a broken vertebra and his season is over.

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