The Carolina Hurricanes signed GM Ron Francis to an extension through the 2018-2019 season but it has been overshadowed by the signing of veteran Raffi Torres to a PTO contract. While many are upset with the signing it is not a bad deal for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The first thing to remember with this deal is that it is a PTO contract or professional tryout contract. That means that the Carolina Hurricanes are not on the hook for any serious money if they decide not to sign Raffi Torres. Currently he just has the opportunity to earn a spot on the team.
There were plenty of factors that went into this move for GM Ron Francis and many of them make sense. First, the Hurricanes are a notably young team and have been one of the least physical/aggressive teams in last few seasons. The Hurricanes are a bottom team when it comes to fighting and total penalty minutes.
While this generally means that the Hurricanes are on the power play more than they are on the penalty kill, it also means that they are not physical or intimidating. Though play is shifting away from “old style physical hockey” it is still smart to have an enforcer on the team.
The main reason for this is to defend smaller players or young assets on the team. Jeff Skinner is one of the most talented players on the team but he has constantly battled injury and being targeted by the other team physically. With a player like Torres teams will think twice before a cheap shot.
With so many young players on the team it is good to bring in a player to protect them. Sebastian Aho will also be playing in the NHL next year and he is not a large player either. The last thing that fans would want to see is Aho missing time with concussion issues early in his career.
PTO Doesn’t Guarantee Torres will make the Roster
In all likelihood Torres won’t be on the Carolina Hurricanes opening roster. One of the benefits of having him in camp is to promote competition. Players will have an additional player to compete against to get a spot in the NHL.
Though Torres’s career has been marred with suspensions and dirty hits, he can still be of service in camp. He is a physical veteran who can bring much needed physicality to practice. He wont be headhunting in practice and if he goes overboard with a hit he can be but in a moments notice with no penalty to the team.
Torres has 600 games of NHL experience, and that can benefit younger players in the locker room. His competition will also be an example to younger players how veterans work. Francis could be bringing him in as an example to younger players on how to work to earn a position on an NHL roster.
Physicality is Exactly what Fans have been asking for
Think about it, for years Caniacs have been asking for the team to be more physical, and as soon as Francis makes a potential move to do this, everyone gets into an uproar. This time the team agrees with the fans and people are worried.
In the scenario that he is signed, it will be around the league minimum which is nothing to the Hurricanes. Worst case is he can be sent back to the AHL or even claimed off of the waivers. It is one of the lowest risk scenarios a team can have.
He will provide hard hits and fights that fans have been wanting to see. That kind of play can benefit a team and organization that has been bottom of the barrel in attendance.
Though I am not a fan of Raffi Torres and I do not believe he values playing the right type of game. There are still benefits to having a player like him around on the roster or in camp. It’s important to remember that though you may not be a fan of the signing, the PTO means little to nothing when it comes to his impact on this team.