"He's coming along," Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer. "Obviously he's a real good player for us and hopefully he'll feel better soon.
"It's all about the approach to rehab and how you go about the rehab. Based on his rehab, it should be about the first of March when he can get back to skating. Then it would be a week or so before he's playing."
Meanwhile, Rutherford mentioned that Pitkanen's status would not inhibit potential trades.
Blueliners Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek are all set to become unrestricted free agents this summer, and there has been much speculation some might be moved before the trade deadline.
"Despite all the talk that people stir up, I'm approaching it at this stage as being more interested in hockey trades and not deadline trades or trading UFAs," Rutherford added. "If something makes sense for our organization and from a financial point of view, if it seems like something we should do, I'll do it. But I'm not out there making all the calls looking to make trades."
Although the Canes traded veteran forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Devils for a fourth-round draft pick and prospect Joe Sova, Rutherford will not discard a trade that could bring in a veteran player.
"If we were to trade a UFA for a veteran player, we would want control of him next year or the next few years," he said. "Usually, we have looked to bring in younger players, but a hockey deal where a veteran player is under contract also is a possibility."
The Hurricanes currently sit in last place of the Eastern Conference with an 18-24-9 record, 10 points out of a playoff spot.
More Trade Deadline Info
List of Trades
| No-Trade/No-Movement Clauses
| Top 25 Available Players
| Team-by-Team Cap Info