The Carolina Hurricanes have signed defenceman Brett Pesce to a six-year contract worth $24.15 million, the team announced Tuesday.

The 22-year-old is going into the final year of his entry level contract with the Hurricanes, which slates him to make $809,167.

Come 2018-2019, Pesce will earn $4.025 million.

“Brett took another big step forward last season,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. “He plays a smart defensive game and has good ability to move the puck and contribute offensively. We plan for him to be a part of the Hurricanes’ defensive corps for a long time.”

Francis and the Hurricanes have been putting together a solid defensive group and the Pesce signing cements it, with his blueline partner Jaccob Slavin signed to a long-term extension about three weeks ago.

Pesce had 20 points in 2016-2017, including two goals and 18 assists. He was a plus-23 for Carolina and skated in all 82 games. He averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time a game and blocked 148 shots, second only to Slavin. Pesce also charted an even strength Corsi of 53.8 percent, best on the team among defencemen.

In 151 games, all with the Hurricanes, Pesce has 36 points.

Carolina is in excellent shape defensively for 2017-2018, with six defencemen signed for just a hair under $9 million.

To contrast that, the Hurricanes have two goalies – Cam Ward and Scott Darling – signed for just under $7.5 million.

That will change the following year, however, and Francis and Co. will have some decisions to make. Noah Hanifin, Klas Dahlbeck and Trevor Van Riemsdyk are all set to become restricted free agents, with the latter two eligible for arbitration. Ward is set to become a free agent, which will leave the club with some decisions to make.

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