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'Canes make statement by signing Staal, Semin

Associated Press Modified: July 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm •  Published: July 27, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes wanted to add one top-shelf forward this offseason. They got two.

By trading for Jordan Staal and signing Alexander Semin, the Hurricanes have sent a clear message: They're in it to win — now.

"It's easy for me to say we stack up fine, but you really don't know until you play the games," general manager Jim Rutherford said Friday. "But I will say we are a much stronger team going into the season than we have been in a long time."

Carolina continued its productive offseason this week by signing Semin, who made it almost a month into free agency before finding a new team, to a one-year, $7 million contract. That came after a draft-day trade for Staal — the brother of captain Eric Staal — and locking him up with a 10-year extension worth $6 million per year.

"Management and ownership are really investing in this team, which is always exciting news," said Jordan Staal, who was in town Friday looking for a house. "To have more depth and bring in players like that, there's definitely movement, and hopefully we can really, as players, start playing some great hockey and hopefully find a way to win."

The Semin signing brought the payroll to roughly $57 million, up about $5 million from this time last year, Rutherford said.

Owner Peter Karmanos Jr. gave the GM the financial flexibility to make the Semin deal and Rutherford said the recent spending splurge has been offset by additional television revenue and by what he called "an all-time high" in season ticket sales, though he didn't have specific figures.

"There's been a lot of excitement created," Rutherford said, "and that's going to mean new revenue."

The acquisitions of Staal and Semin address the team's stated offseason objective of adding scoring punch. But there was a side benefit to those moves, plus their legitimate pursuit of free agent Zach Parise and their attempts to trade for Rick Nash. Taken together, they seemed to state to the rest of the league that the small-market club is serious about winning.

"Certainly, the fact that we are now going out and paying a free agent $7 million is making a pretty strong statement about where we feel our team's at," Rutherford said, "and where we think we can go."

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