March 16, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters (35) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at Tampa Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How The Carolina Hurricanes Can Make Cap Space

The Carolina Hurricanes are still after a forward in free agency. Yesterday Cardiac Cane speculated that the forward could be Jaromir Jagr. Later, GM Jim Rutherford gave some more insight on how things are moving along with the mystery player:

So the Canes are still in discussion with this free agent and it’s possible that Rutherford will take the steps necessary to reel in the player. Here is what the Canes salary issues look like now and how it can be fixed to add someone else:

Salary Space Now

According to capgeek.com, the Hurricanes have $4,860,000 in cap space, but that’s with only 11 forwards and six defensemen on the roster. Jared Staal, and Zac Dalpe need to be re-signed and Brett Bellemore could travel with the team as a seventh defenseman.

Assuming Staal signs for $600k and Bellemore sticks with the team for the whole season, the Canes are at $3,460,000. The Hurricanes could sign a forward at $3 million for this season, but will have no money to work with during the season.

It’s also worth noting that CapGeek does not include Justin Peters, who is still on the Hurricanes’ roster. He can be sent to the AHL or dealt in a trade to lose his salary.

If the Canes want to add a forward, their best option is to trade someone or send someone to the AHL.

Salary Saving Options

One possible option to send to the AHL is Jeremy Welsh, who makes $800k. Drayson Bowman and Kevin Westgarth could also be traded with Nicolas Blanchard replacing one of them, which would save over $900k in cap space.

But these options will only open a small amount of money. If the Hurricanes need to spend more, they’ll have to trade one of their bigger salary players.

These include the Staal brothers, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, Cam Ward, Tuomo Ruutu, Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason. Of those eight, only Pitkanen and

Could defenseman Jonii Pitkanen be part of a trade in the near future? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gleason would likely be part of a trade, but Gleason has a no-trade-clause, which leaves just Pitkanen.

Moving the Finnish defenseman may not be a bad idea depending on the return. Pitkanen badly injured his heel on an icing incident that kept him out of the rest of the season and only has one season left at $4.5 million.

The Canes could move him and get a cheaper top-four defenseman in return. Then next season, Ryan Murphy would be able to replace Pitkanen if Murphy’s development continues like it has these past two seasons.

But one thing Rutherford cannot do is overpay in a trade to make cap room; similar to what happened when he traded Brian Boucher and Mark Alt to the Philadelphia Flyers for Luke Pither.

That deal was to make room for Dan Ellis. Alt was a second-round pick that did not look like much at the time, but has since signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers and plans to play in the AHL next season.

Either way, a trade may be coming to the Hurricanes soon. The only question is whether it will be big or small.

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Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Joni Pitkanen Justin Peters

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