It is no secret that I started to develop a Skinner-like love for Jiri Tlusty this year. I tweeted that I needed a Skinner backup while the Rookie of the Year was concussed and someone suggested Mr. Tlusty. It seemed like a solid choice, so I started showing Jiri the love and he had a career-best year. Yes, I am taking all the credit. I should be his lucky troll…that doesn’t sound appealing…how about his rabbit foot? Canes signed Tlusty to a two-year contract worth $3.2 million this week to my delight. It is a deal that will pay him $1.5 million next season and $1.7 million in 2013-14.
The 24-year-old forward played in 79 games and earned 17 goals and 19 assists. He could have become a restricted free agent July 1st.
Tlusty was drafted first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006 NHL entry draft. On July 14, 2006 the forward signed a 3 year contract with the Leafs. On December 3, 2009 Jiri headed south as a result of a trade for Philippe Paradis to join the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored his first Canes goal just 8 days later.
The 2009-10 season was split between the Albany River Rats and Hurricanes. He had 6 goals and 9 assists over 20 contests with Albany and 6 points in 18 games with the Canes. The Czech native inked another Carolina contract on July 1, 2010 for one-way, one year deal.
Tlusty mostly remained at the NHL level for the 2010-11 season playing 57 games with the Canes. He had 12 points (6g, 6a) and 14 penalty minutes. History repeated itself on July 1, 2011 when he signed another one year contract with the Canes.
Mr. Jiri has also represented the Czech Republic in three international tournaments. He had 7points to help his team win bronze during the 2006 U-18 World Juniors.
Despite an injury this season, Tlusty has shown tremendous growth and maturity in his game this year. He even claimed 9 game point streak including a power play goal, and three game-winners.
Tlusty could prove to be a big impact for Carolina come October. Of course, I will continue to cheer him on. Who knows, perhaps my Skinny love will have to take a back seat for Jiri. Oh my God Skinner, I’m sorry…I don’t mean it. I’m forever your cougsy.