On April 21 (before the Scott Darling deal), I took a detailed look look at the Carolina Hurricanes salary situation entering the offseason. Important to note is that I said “salary” and intentionally omitted the word “cap.” Though I do expect the Hurricanes’ budget to rise slightly this year and even more as players come off of entry-level contracts and earn raises, the fuzzy, unofficial internal budget for the 2017-18 season will see the Hurricanes significantly below the salary cap ceiling.
With a couple Hurricanes’ moves completed, here is a quick check in on the salary situation right now and also my ‘guesstimation’ for what lies ahead.
With the addition of Scott Darling who CapFriendly shows making $4.75 million in 2017-18, the Hurricanes are currently up that amount in salary. I am on record as believing that Ron Francis will choose to buy out Eddie Lack if he is unable to trade him. If that happens, the team will pay him $1 million in each of 2017-18 and 2018-19 and therefore save $2 million of salary for 2017-18.
With three goalies: $4.75 million increase in salary.
With buyout of Lack: $2.75 million increase in salary.
The core of the blue line (Faulk, Pesce, Slavin, Hanifin, Murphy) had contracts that carried over into 2017-18. Dahlbeck’s re-signing makes 6 players under contract and expected to play at the NHL level. I am on record as thinking that there is a good chance that Ryan Murphy will be traded before the start of the season, but even if his spot reopens the financial impact would be modest with another low-salary player likely to fill the role. Right now, the biggest difference is the departure of Ron Hainsey and his $2.5 million contract in 2016-17.
With adding a seventh defenseman from within: $2 million decrease in salary.
With adding a #4/#5 defenseman from outside plus another from within: $0-$500,000 decrease in salary.
My prediction is that Francis will add an experienced defenseman to the mix and that he will shop a notch higher than the waiver wire he used last fall. I am budgeting $1.5-2 million.
Depending on if Francis adds someone, if Murphy is in fact traded and if the team starts the season with seven or eight on the roster, the savings should come in between $0 and $ 2 million.
So far, the Hurricanes have a decrease at the forward position primarily by virtue of Bryan Bickell’s retirement. His 2016-17 salary was $4.5 million. The Hurricanes have a number of depth forwards to either re-sign or replace in Di Giuseppe, McGinn, Stalberg, McClement and Ryan. But these transactions should have minimal budget impact as both the players’ new contracts and/or replacements should come in at similar salaries.
Looking at the bigger ticket items, Lindholm’s salary increases by $400,000. Teravainen’s new contract is likely to increase by about $1.6 million (assumes $2.5 million annually for his new contract). Offset by Bickell’s contract and a few other minor savings swapping out McClement, Nestrasil, etc. with slightly cheaper players, the Hurricanes are currently down about $3.5 million in salary at the forward position.
Assuming $6 million addition and possibly a depth forward: $2.5 million salary increase.
Netting it out after the Carolina Hurricanes moves over the offseason
If you grant me the addition of a $6 million forward, a $1.5 million defenseman and a $1 million forward and then adjust for a Ryan Murphy trade and Eddie Lack buy out, the Hurricanes’ opening day salary would clock in at about $58.9 million which is about $4 million more than the 2016-17 opening day roster.
There is a contingent that will clamor for spending even more, but as long as Francis makes the move needed at forward and does not get too cute/cheap filling out the blue line, that this modest budget is enough. This math also leaves him a ton of financial flexibility to add during the season or at the trade deadline and also allows for the fact that the Hurricanes have a slew of players coming off cheap entry-level contracts in the next few years.
What say you Canes fans?
Do you think Francis should up the spending further, or will you be content with the Scott Darling acquisition, one top end forward and a depth player or two?