The Carolina Hurricanes have some difficult decisions ahead as they try to figure out how to make the team better next season. Who will stay and who will go? While it's difficult enough to make judgements about players based solely upon skill and grit, the cold reality is that the most important factor and the basis for making these decisions will depend upon the budget for next season.
Last year the Canes spent about 49-50 million, which was a bit above their intended budget. The league's salary cap was set at 56.7 million, so the team still had plenty of room to spend, if they wanted to. While the league has indicated that the cap will drop next season, (to about 55 million), the Hurricanes budget will continue to be below the cap. But how much lower?
One would hope that they might spend a bit more than they did last year because the team made money due to the deep run in the playoffs. But there are no guarantees about that. If you check out the salary chart below, you will see the Canes already have 16 players signed for next year and over 40 million committed at the present time.
Eric Staal is at the top of the list with a cap hit of 8.25 million. But the out of pocket expense for the Canes this year for Staal will be 6 million because his contract is backend loaded. That is the number which will hit the budget.
There are a couple of players currently under contract that management would love to move, but let's assume everyone stays for now. The team needs to re-sign or replace the following unsigned Hurricanes:
- Ryan Bayda UFA
- Erik Cole UFA
- Dennis Seidenberg UFA
- Chad LaRose UFA
- Tuomo Ruutu RFA
- Jussi Jokinen RFA
- Anton Babchuk RFA
A few of those players will want a raise, but Carolina can not afford all of them. Or can they? Will they even want to bring back everyone? One could assume that the team will not be able to improve if they bring back the exact same lineup from last year.
Tough decisions, right? Well, stay tuned because the Canes Country brain trust will soon be sharing a few thoughts. Cory, Scott, and I will be having a round table discussion of sorts and will let you know what we think. Will we be in complete agreement? That is highly doubtful.
(For your future convenience, you can find this salary chart on the left sidebar under "Canes Related Links")
|Brandon Sutter||$ 875,000||$ 875,000||$ 875,000||RFA|
|Michael Leighton||$ 600,000||$ 600,000||UFA|
|Tim Conboy||$ 500,000||$ 500,000||UFA|
|Season Totals||$42,646,667||$40,400,000||$23,375,000||$11,250,000||$ 8,250,000|
|**these figures do not include bonuses|