Babchuk is back

As expected, the Carolina Hurricanes signed defenseman Anton Babchuk to a one-year deal shortly after the free-agency signing period opened Thursday.

The Hurricanes retained Babchuk’s rights after last season when the two sides couldn’t agree on terms. Babchuk, 26, spent the season in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

The Hurricanes had made him a qualifying offer at the end of last season, but Babchuk had lost his arbitration rights when he left to play in Russia for the 2007-08 season, and so he went back to Russia.

Babchuk had a career year with the Hurricanes during his last season (2008-09) with the team, scoring 16 goals — including four game-winners — and 19 assists.

“I will admit that we missed him,” Rutherford said Thursday. “I said at the time, it’s going to be hard to replace those 16 goals. We didn’t.”