The Carolina Hurricanes had a huge increase in their payroll for the 2019-20 season. We take an in-depth look as to why the Hurricanes decided to spend in order to capitalize on their assets.
The first major occurrence of the Carolina Hurricanes offseason was when they acquired Erik Haula from the Vegas Golden Knights. Don Waddell saw a team that needed to shed some salary cap in the Golden Knights and acquired a big need for the Hurricanes offense. The Hurricanes were thin at center and needed some reinforcements on offense. Haula fits that bill even though he missed most of the 2018-19 season with an injury. In 2017-18, Haula scored 29 goals and was a huge offensive threat having 55 points.
On the first day of free agency, the biggest news of the offseason came in for the Carolina Hurricanes. Sebastian Aho agreed to sign an offer sheet for the Montreal Canadiens. And as many of you know Tom Dundon was the target of being cheap and not being able to afford the signing bonus heavy contract. On the other hand, the Hurricanes knew they were going to match regardless of cost. They thought it would be more money.
The Hurricanes know that Aho is a huge part of their future and they weren’t going to let money get in the way of securing him to a contract. Aho could very well be the next Hurricanes captain, but it just depends on when with Justin Williams still undecided on his future. Aho is the Carolina Hurricanes’ best offensive weapon and the Hurricanes couldn’t afford to lose him as he just keeps getting better and better as the year progressed.
Later on July 1, the Hurricanes made a signing that they desperately needed to make. They re-signed Petr Mrazek to a two-year contract, making him the clear-cut number one goalie on the team. Mrazek was able to revitalize his career with his one year in Carolina. When the Hurricanes were on their hot streak, Mrazek was separating himself as the number one goalie from Curtis McElhinney. He finished 23-14-3 with a 2.39 GAA and .914 save percentage. He was the right choice for the Hurricanes because he is just 27 years old and the two-year deal worth $6.25 million also gives the team leeway should something go wrong.
The Hurricanes also acquired their potential backup goalie in James Reimer and were able to shed the contract of Scott Darling, which the Florida Panthers bought out. Reimer, although overpaid as a backup goalie, might be better suited in Carolina as he has a better defense in front of him for the Hurricanes than he did in Florida. This goalie tandem could be reminiscent of last year’s, but younger.
The Hurricanes, in order to further improve their offense, signed Ryan Dzingel seemingly out of nowhere. The deal was ended up being two years worth $6.75M. Dzingel will most definitely bolster the Hurricanes offense as he is coming off a 56 point season (26 goals and 30 assists). What is noteworthy is his success on a team with such a lack of talent. In Ottawa last season, Dzingel scored 22 of his 26 goals and collected 22 of his 30 assists. Now in Carolina, he is surrounded by better players that can help elevate his game even further and the Hurricanes staff knows that.
The Hurricanes also took on Patrick Marleau’s contract to get a conditional first round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. They did this with the intention of buying out his contract, but did see if he wanted to play for the Carolina Hurricanes or just buyout his contract. The Hurricanes then bought Marleau out after he expressed his wishes to return to San Jose, making him a free agent. The Canes took on a $6.25 million cap hit in order to get either a tradeable asset or a high draft pick selection.
But here is the question. What made the Carolina Hurricanes use almost all of their cap space?
The Hurricanes front office is very confident in where they stood after the surprising 2018-19 season. When you have a future as bright as the Carolina Hurricanes, you have to capitalize to win it all. The front office feels adding even more offense to last season’s team makes the Hurricanes a Stanley Cup contender. And with that being said you do anything to get a championship.
The Hurricanes window is wide open even with the Metropolitan division improving with the exception of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now that the young core of the team had a taste of the playoffs they will be hungry as well. But adding guys like Haula and Dzingel give the Hurricanes even more depth scoring than they had last season. These are players in each of their last full seasons played are combined for 55 goals.
This increased spending doesn’t happen if the Hurricanes didn’t have the playoff run that they did. The Hurricanes have been targeted for years as a team that needs to relocate because they don’t generate money or that the owner is cheap and would never spend that kind of money. News flash! That was the Ron Francis and Peter Karmanos Jr. way of thinking. Don Waddell and Tom Dundon know what they have and they aren’t going to let it slip away just because Dundon would have to spend a little extra.
The Justin Williams situation also adds to spending and maybe even a little shredding of cap space depending on how things play out. The Hurricanes currently stand at a little over $2.495 million in cap space. The question is if Williams decided to return, what would his contract look like? The Hurricanes do have avenues to cut cap in order to give Williams a contract that is desirable for him to play for another season. They could move on from a defenseman or maybe even a goalie in order to get Williams signed.
Waddell and Dundon both know that Williams is an insanely good leader that is very beneficial for all of the young players that the Hurricanes have. His experience is invaluable for the Hurricanes young core and it showed last year.
The Carolina Hurricanes are primed to make a lot more in revenue than they are used to. And that will only benefit in how the front office looks to handle the cap moving forward. The reason being is sustained success. If the Hurricanes continue to be a playoff contender fans will want to keep showing up. Attendance was low because the Hurricanes never really had a team that could break through or have a front office that would be willing to sell off some of the farm system to get NHL ready talent. The Hurricanes have that now and it’s a breath of fresh air. Time to put the ‘cheap ownership’ narrative to rest.
Question for CC Readers: Does this increase in spending increase your confidence in what the front office is trying to get done for the Hurricanes?