The Carolina Hurricanes announced today that defenceman Alex Lintuniemi has been placed on unconditional waivers with the intent of terminating his contract.
There’s one less Finn in the Carolina Hurricanes organization as it was announced that the contract of Alex Lintuniemi would be terminated. This marks the end of his short stint with the Hurricanes, having just signed a one-year, two-way deal in early July.
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Lintuniemi turned pro late in the 2014-15 season with Manchester Monarchs, then the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Over the next four seasons, the defenseman played 210 games between the AHL and ECHL, though he never suited up for an NHL contest.
Seeking a new contract after last season, Lintuniemi signed with the Hurricanes and was assigned to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Despite his size (6’3″, 231lbs) and defensive talents, the organizational depth on the blueline kept Lintuniemi out of all but four games this season. In hindsight, signing with the Hurricanes seems like an odd choice, but it all depends on how much interest there was.
With players like Chase Priskie, Jake Bean, and Roland McKeown seeing the lion’s share of ice time in Charlotte and veterans with NHL experience like Gustav Forsling and Fredrik Claesson on the roster, it was a tall order for Lintuniemi to climb much higher. This was exacerbated by the fact that he’s known as a stay-at-home defenseman, a valuable yet unglamorous role.
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Of course, that’s not to dismiss the importance of such a player, but the increased emphasis on two-way defenders and the tight funnel to the NHL limited his chances. While there is a chance that Hurricanes GM Don Waddell could have pursued a small trade, the likelihood of Lintuniemi sliding straight into an NHL job is doubtful.
Since interest in his services was relatively low over the summer, it’s likely that the 24-year-old opts to play professionally in his native Finland. Personally, I can’t blame him. If he felt as though he was treading water in the minors, a return to his homeland could be the best thing for him. That said, it’s never fun when a new contract proves to be so short-lived, and I wish him the best moving forward.
Were you surprised by this move? What hopes did you have for Lintuniemi when he was signed this summer?