The Hurricanes added depth at center with the signing of Ben Holmstrom to a one-year, two-way contract on Friday.
Holmstrom, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, spent his first five professional seasons in the Philadelphia Flyers organization where he was captain of the team’s AHL team in Adirondack for the last three. The 27-year-old has 122 points (49g, 73a) and 393 penalty minutes in 256 career AHL games. He has also played seven NHL games with Philadelphia and was a “black ace” for the Flyers’ playoff run this past spring.
A product of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Holmstrom profiles similarly to Brett Sutter, the former Checkers captain who signed with the Minnesota Wild earlier this week – a gritty, two-way center with leadership qualities. Though Holmstrom did not enjoy the same level of offensive production as Sutter last season (32 points, fourth on the team, compared to Sutter’s 44), he had a decided edge in penalty minutes (146 against Sutter’s 69).
Holmstrom joins goaltender Drew MacIntyre as new players signed to two-way contracts with Carolina since the unrestricted free agency period began on Tuesday. The Hurricanes have also re-signed a number of restricted free agents to two-way contracts, a group that includes forwards Zach Boychuk, Greg Nemisz and Jared Staal and defenseman Michal Jordan.
Assuming Holmstrom is the center that Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis spoke of wanting to sign earlier in the week, the team should still be in the market for a right wing that can play an impact role in Charlotte.