CapFriendly which is the go to source for all things NHL salaries/contracts officially rolled forward to 2018-19 recently, and with the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals set to begin, the offseason is near.
As such, it is a good time to set the initial baseline for the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2018-19 salary commitments and projects.
The short version
Right now, the Hurricanes show as having only $47.7 million committed for the 2018-19 season. Some will see that and jump to the conclusion that the Hurricanes will need to add salary to reach the cap floor which is projected to be about $59 million, but once one works through the math in some detail, hitting the cap floor is pretty much a done deal unless the team trades away significant salary without taking a similar amount back.
For next season, the team sees its first round of increases with Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce’s new contracts kicking in and Noah Hanifin also scheduled for his second contract. The next wave of increases arrives next summer when Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are due for new contracts.
The longer version
The $47.7 million that shows committed on CapFriendly is for only 12 players including one goalie (Darling), three defensemen (Faulk, Slavin, Pesce) and eight forwards (Staal, Skinner, Aho, Teravainen, Rask, Williams, McGinn, Martinook). Haydn Fleury who is not included only because he was dropped to the AHL roster brings the total to 13 players and $48.6 million.
Restricted free agents certain to be re-signed
Noah Hanifin: He is probably the restricted free agent with the widest potential price range depending on term and how he gets valued. My wild guess is a two-year bridge deal at $2.8 million per year (similar to what Lindholm and Teravainen recently received as highly-drafted, young RFAs).
Trevor van Riemsdyk: After a strong 2017-18 season, he definitely earns a raise over his sub-million dollar contract. I think he gets two years at $1.5-2 million per year, so let’s call it $1.8 million for year.
Elias Lindholm: He ranks second only to Hanifin for being an interesting decision this summer. The objective assessment of Lindholm thus far is that he is a solid but unspectacular depth forward who is clearly top 9 capable but not top 9 special. If he gets paid for that level of play, I figure he gets a modest raise over his recent $2.8 million salary. If the Hurricanes want to lock him up longer-term and/or if his agent can still collect for his future upside despite the fact that he is now five years deep in his NHL career, he gets more. My preference would be to take a middle ground and play a bit of hardball if necessary if his agent tries to collect again for unrealized potential. I say three years at $3.5 million is a fair price, but I admit being fearful of a higher price tag.
The math continued
Just those three players at what I would consider lower-end prices brings the Hurricanes up to $56.7 with only 16 players on the roster. Any combination of even inexpensive signings or AHL call ups would push the Hurricanes up above $60 million and safely above the salary cap.
So again the only way the salary cap floor comes into play is if the Hurricanes trade away significant salary without taking salary back or spending some of it in the free agent market.
The decisions on other free agents
In addition to the higher-profile restricted free agents listed above, the Hurricanes must make decisions on a number of other players.
Restricted free agents also include Phil Di Giuseppe and Joakim Nordstrom who would both come in at around $1 million if re-signed. In addition, unrestricted free agents Cam Ward, Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak must be considered. If the Hurricanes re-sign Ward, that would push the team farther up above the cap floor as would Ryan.
My 2 cents and questions
Per my comments above, I think a modest earn it/provide bridge deal makes the most sense for Hanifin. I think that comes in at $2.5-3.5 million per year for two years. I see van Riemsdyk getting up to $2 million per year for 2-3 years. And my wild guess is that the Hurricanes also tread lightly in terms of committing a boat load of money to Lindholm, so I say 2-3 years for him as well with a modest raise over his current $2.8 million salary. So let’s call it 3 years at $3.3 million.
Of the other free agents, I think Ward will be re-signed at similar to his current deal but maybe slightly less, so let’s call it $2.8 million for one year. I also think Joakim Nordstrom will be re-upped for one year at about $1 million per year.
Though I am on record as thinking that Derek Ryan could be a decent depth forward, I think most likely is that he leaves to open up another roster spot for youth.
I also think it is likely that the Hurricanes will swing at least one sizable deal to change the core but that either the deal will bring back a comparable salary or otherwise that the team will reinvest the savings in the free agent market.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What term and annual salary do you think is fair for Noah Hanifin? What do you think his new contract will actually come in at?
2) What term and annual salary do you think is fair for Elias Lindholm? What do you think his new contract will actually come in at?
3) What term and annual salary do you think is fair for Trevor van Riemsdyk? What do you think his new contract will actually come in at?
4) Do you think the team will bring back Cam Ward? And if so, at what salary?
5) What other additions/subtractions do you see for the Hurricanes’ 2018-19 salaries?