RALEIGH, N.C. — Sean Hill, coming off a career-best 13 goals and 31 assists in his third season with the Carolina Hurricanes, has signed a four-year, $9 million contract with the St. Louis Blues.
Hill agreed to the deal just before midnight Saturday.
The defenseman, whose 246 hits led Carolina, said the club did not make a concerted effort to keep him.
"I would've stayed in Carolina for much less than I received from St. Louis," said Hill, who had been offered a two-year, $3 million contract by the Hurricanes. "But it never got to the point where they were serious about negotiating. I can't understand it."
Hill's agent, Jeff Solomon, said he heard from 10 other teams Saturday, the first day of open negotiations for free agents.
Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford disagreed with Hill's assessment of the situation.
"Even if we did up the ante, we still would not have gotten to the money that St. Louis offered him," Rutherford told the News & Observer of Raleigh. "That's a phenomenal deal for Sean: four years at $9 million. He's got to take it."
Hill also led Carolina defensemen in power-play goals (8) and power-play points (24) and led the team in ice time.
It became apparent, though, the Hurricanes decided not to make Hill's re-signing a top priority after the team acquired four-time All-Star defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Hurricanes also could lose another free agent, left wing Gary Roberts.
Carolina has offered Roberts a three-year deal worth at least $7.5 million.
His agent, Richard Curran, said six teams have inquired about Roberts. He is believed to be considering an offer from his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hill believes his teammate will leave.
"I don't think Gary will be back," Hill said. "He wants to be in a big-time hockey atmosphere."