Justin Williams has yet to decide if he will retire or re-sign with the Carolina Hurricanes for the 2019-20 season. If he does re-sign, what would his contract look like?
Don Waddell and Tom Dundon are not in the business of rushing things. From the offer sheet tendered to franchise center Sebastian Aho last week, to the leeway they are providing Justin Williams in his decision-making process of whether to lace up the skates for one last season, or hang them up for good, the Hurricanes’ front-office leadership have decided to take the route of the proverbial tortoise.
Thus far, the ‘slow and steady’ approach has proven to be not only successful, but intelligent beyond measure compared to moves being made by other GMs and Owners around the league. Waddell and Dundon have begun setting the stage for a second consecutive successful season, but there are still a few puzzles to be solved before October; the first, and most important of which, remains the question of what would happen if Justin Williams decides to return to the Hurricanes for one last season.
I, for one, would be ecstatic, as would the vast majority of Hurricanes fans. Williams has cemented himself in Hurricanes history as one of the most dynamic and dependable players to ever wear the ‘C’ in the organization. Williams not only invented the Storm Surge, which reinvigorated a fanbase that had endured a full decade of mediocrity, but he led the 2nd worst team in the league as of December 31st, 2018 to the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Granted, Williams didn’t do this all on his own, but was nevertheless the fulcrum by which the Hurricanes were able to vault themselves out of irrelevancy and doubt, and back into the forefront of the hearts and minds of cranky old hockey analysts and hockey fans alike, all within a single season.
On top of all of his contributions to the team culture and morale, Williams scored 23 goals and 30 assists for a total of 53 points in 82 games played in the regular season, all at the age of 37. His offensive contribution is undeniably alive and kicking, and Williams should be able to produce at the same pace if he were to return to the Carolina Hurricanes this coming season.
This leaves us with just one question: what would a reasonable contract for Justin Williams look like? His most recent contract, now expired, was a 2-year, $9M contract that carried a $4.5M cap hit per year. Williams was definitely worth this price tag based on his leadership ability, so his being a 20-goal scorer and 53 points this past season were just icing on the cake.
If I were Don Waddell, I would offer Justin Williams in the neighborhood of $3.5M for a 1-year deal, then a spot on the bench with the coaching staff for as long as possible following the 2019-20 season. Even then, the dollar amount of this contract could be seen as a bit low considering everything Justin Williams has done for the Carolina Hurricanes in the two short years since he’s returned to the organization.
Williams and his family have made Raleigh their home. Regardless of which side of the fence he lands on come October, I have no doubt in my mind that he will return to the Hurricanes in some capacity for years to come. Let’s just hope he’s ready for one last run at the Stanley Cup; it’d be quite the sight to see Captain Clutch hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup on home ice one last time.
Question for CC Readers: What would you feel is a reasonable contract for Justin Williams if he decides to return to the Hurricanes this coming season?