Free-agent defenseman Mike Komisarek had no sooner signed a one-year deal Friday with the Carolina Hurricanes than he was on the phone with Canes coach Kirk Muller.

“He was really excited,” Muller said. “I think he’s really looking forward to getting down to Raleigh, in our market, and being able to just play hockey. Just go and play and not worry about anything else.”

Komisarek was one of two players acquired Friday by the Hurricanes as NHL free agency began. Carolina also signed former Boston Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin to a one-year, $800,000 contract.

Komisarek, 31, came at lower price – $700,000. That’s a far cry from the five-year, $22.5 million free-agent deal he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in July 2009.

The Montreal Canadiens selected Komisarek in the first round in 2001 and by 2009, he had become an elite defenseman for them. Muller, then an assistant coach in Montreal, watched the 6-4, 235-pounder develop into a rugged shutdown type.

“He loves to compete,” Muller said. “He always played with great energy. He was always great in the (locker) room.”

But the move to Toronto proved nightmarish for Komisarek, a native of West Islip, N.Y. Selected for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game and chosen to play for the U.S. Olympic team in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he injured a shoulder in a game against Calgary in early January 2010.

Komisarek had season-ending surgery and missed the Olympics. His career has never been quite the same and he fell out of favor in Toronto, first under former Leafs coach Ron Wilson and then Randy Carlyle, and had to deal with intense media scrutiny.

Komisarek played just four games for Carlyle this past season. He was placed on waivers in March and then assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. The Leafs elected to use a compliance buyout on him this week and will pay him $1.667 million each of the next two years.