Carolina Hurricanes Re-Sign Five Restricted Free Agents


Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis had a busy Thursday and signed all five remaining restricted free agents. Among these free agents is 23 year old defenseman, Ryan Murphy.

Brody Sutter, Brendan Woods, Keegan Lowe, and Dennis Robertson have agreed to one year two-way contracts. Lowe’s contract is worth $750,000. Woods and Robertson will make $650,000, and Sutter will be paid $600,000.

These signings will be the last big action from Ron Francis this off season. With no more restricted free agents, the house keeping work has been finalized and the roster is set. Any remaining free agents that are unsigned are unlikely to return to the team next year.

Carolina Hurricanes, Ryan Murphy Agree to Two Year Deal

The bigger news of the day is that the Carolina Hurricanes have agreed to a two year, one-way contract with defenseman Ryan Murphy worth $1.575 million. The contract will have an average annual value of $787,500 that will count against the cap.

The deal is technically a pay cut for the young defensemen who made an average of $1.313 million per year at the NHL level under his previous contact. However, unlike his last contract, the new contract is a one-way which all but ensures he will stay in the NHL full time.

A one-way contract means that he is no longer waiver exempt. If the Carolina Hurricanes want to send him to the Charlotte Checkers every other NHL team can claim him before he is moved to the AHL. Murphy is all but guaranteed to stay in the NHL over the next two seasons which is more valuable to his career than more money.

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It is surprising to see him get a pay cut due to the fact that he is on the rise. Over his first few seasons he looked to be a turnover machine and didn’t look comfortable with the speed of the NHL game. As last season progressed Murphy looked more comfortable and positively affected the offensive production of his teammates.

Last season Murphy split time between the Charlotte Checkers and the Carolina Hurricanes, but finished the season in the NHL. Over the 2015-2016 season Murphy played 35 games and had 10 assists. Where Murphy made huge strides last season was in his possession numbers. He finished the year with a 51.9% Corsi For Percentage, which was places him third on the team for defensemen.

Murphy will look to start this season in the NHL and continue to grow as a player. Coming in more comfortable and knowing that his spot on the team is more secure should allow him to play more relaxed and be more confident on the ice. His passing and ability to create offense with his shot or quick breakouts should help the team create more scoring.

His signing now solidifies Murphy as the sixth d-man on the roster for the 2016-2017 season. Murphy has a right handed shot, which is rare for defensemen, and is perhaps one of the biggest reasons he will play an increased roll this season. Murphy’s skills as an offensive defensemen will earn him more time on the power play unit, and is the easiest place for him to make a bigger impact.

Expansion Draft Implications

The expansion draft rules let a team protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goaltender OR eight skaters and one goaltender. First and second year players are also protected in the draft, which means the Carolina Hurricanes have little to worry about.

There is one wrinkle the 2017 expansion draft rules. A team must expose one defenseman who has played at least 40 games in 2016-2017 or 70 games between last season and the upcoming season. Because first and second year players are exempt, Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, and Jaccob Slavin who have met that criteria, will be automatically exempt from the draft.

The only player that fits this bill currently and is signed beyond next season is Justin Faulk. There is no way that the Carolina Hurricanes want to leave the all-star d-man exposed in the draft. Las Vegas surely wouldn’t pass up a young top pair defenseman in the expansion draft so the Canes have to get around that some how.

Where Ryan Murphy comes into play is that as long as he plays 35 games this season, the Hurricanes can leave him exposed instead of Justin Faulk. Murphy will surely play a bigger part on the team this season and will easily surpas the 35 game mark.

Next: Carolina Hurricanes Possible Landing Spot for David Krejci

Murphy’s signing not only helps the Carolina Hurricanes on the ice, but now helps shield an all-star from the expansion draft. Ron Francis was able to continue with his plan and help the team and it cost him under $1 million per year to make it happen.