Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canes Add More Defensive Depth, Size

Zack Fitzgerald

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed physical D-man Zack Fitzgerald to a one-year, two-way deal, adding defensive depth and size to the organization.

Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound, stay-at-home defenseman, comes from the Manitoba Moose, AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, where he led the team last season in penalty minutes and finished third in +/- ranking with a +13.

In four professional seasons, Fitzgerald has played 165 AHL games, totaling six goals, 14 assists and 610 penalty minutes.

Originally from Two Harbors, Minnesota, Fitzgerald was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round in 2003. After spending time with minor league affiliates in Alaska and Peoria, he was traded to Vancouver in 2007.

An early analysis of Fitzgerald's talent by the website Hockey's Future described the D-man as "defensively responsible, offensively adequate, and very physical," noting that he "regularly ravages the opposition in his own end." The writer remarks: "One word comes to mind when mentioning Fitzgerald's style of play: mean."

The Canes' top priority this off-season has been acquiring size and toughness. Fitzgerald fits the bill. He'll probably spend most of next season in Albany, but don't be surprised if he gets called up to bust some heads for Carolina.