The only real concern there is regarding David Cotton is his currently uncertain future in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. As a college senior, he will have the option to bypass signing an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes, and if he insists on playing elsewhere he can become an unrestricted free agent on August 15, 2020.
The Hurricanes are well aware of this possibility, and I’d like to assume they’re considering all possibilities in regards to how to proceed with Cotton’s rights. At the 2019 prospects camp, coach Rod Brind’Amour expressed optimism in Cotton eventually signing with the team.
"“The hope is when he gets done he’ll want to sign with us based on the relationship we have with him and him wanting to be here” Rod said."
Cotton has been pretty complemental about the organization during his four years at prospect camp, where he was also named one of the two team captains in the 2019 edition. After the camp ended, Cotton said the following about Carolina:
"“You know, just every time you get to put on that white and red [Hurricanes] jersey, and see the logo on it, it kind of all just hits you at once that like wow, I’m here. And that’s a feeling that won’t go away for a while … it’s extremely special for me.”"
But alas, despite all the positive signs from both sides regarding Cotton coming to Raleigh, the Hurricanes organization can’t help but proceed with caution until the ink on the contract has dried. Let’s not forget, GM Don Waddell had said he was “99.9 percent sure we’ll get [Fox] signed”, which obviously didn’t come to fruition.
Unfortunately, unlike in the Fox situation, the Canes have limited options as to how to proceed with Cotton. The easiest situation for Carolina would be that Cotton signs an entry-level contract with them, and they reap the benefit of having drafted and developed the kid since they selected him back in 2015. Where it gets tricky though, is if Cotton opts against signing.
With Fox, he was still a year away from unrestricted free agency, which forced the New York Rangers to give up assets for him to accelerate his timeline to their team. Otherwise, they would’ve had to wait another year. With Cotton, the team he wants to sign with may be reluctant to part ways with assets for him, knowing that they can wait until August and sign him without giving anything up.
That really limits the Hurricanes’ options if Cotton decides he doesn’t want to be here. However, the only on-roster centers the Canes have under contract for 2020 are Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal. Erik Haula is an impending UFA and Lucas Wallmark will be an RFA, clouding each of their futures. If Cotton is confident he’s better than kids like Eetu Luostarinen and Clark Bishop, he could see a clear pathway directly to the Hurricanes roster.
Regardless, it will be an interesting storyline to follow, seeing that Cotton will unquestionably be one of the most highly coveted college UFAs this year if it gets to that point. The Hurricanes were able to lure Chase Priskie this summer after he opted against signing with the Washington Capitals, so despite the Fox fiasco they have had success luring college players into their system.
Boston College’s season will likely end sometime around late March to early April, so this whole situation could see some clarification around that time. Fingers crossed that the Hurricanes can get their man signed. It would be a real shame to see Cotton blown away with the wind.
Question for CC Readers: Do you think Cotton will sign with Carolina?