Carolina Hurricanes: Status report on the budget and the roster

Rutherford's recycling plan: from April 2009, Anton Babchuk is congratulated by teammates after his OT goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins clinches a 2009 playoff spot for the Hurricanes. Photo by LTD

With the few additional signings last week, we find ourselves at a point where we can sharpen our pencils and see exactly where the Hurricanes organization stands as we ready for the 2010-11 season, both in terms of dollars committed and remaining roster spots to be filled. Reviewing these exchanges, it's been a hectic few weeks, and if you've kept up with all of it, at the very least, you deserve a gold star.

A few weeks ago, on June 21, we listened to GM Jim Rutherford explaining that, in the context of efforts to recapitalize the franchise with a new minority partner, the budget for the Carolina club's NHL salary for next season would be set close to the cap floor, since determined to be $43.4 million. For many of us, this was when it became all too apparent that, if that budget number held true, Hurricanes alternate captain Ray Whitney was unlikely to return next season. We also didn't know what would be happen (if anything) in the handling of the remaining year of Rod Brind`Amour's contract. Or was Sergei Samsonov a potential buyout candidate? Was it possible there were other free agents that Rutherford might bring in? How would the numbers work then, especially to add some grit and experience to the blue line?

After the jump, I've got the current numbers and a downloadable spreadsheet to enable you to better take on the role of "Armchair GM" between now and October, when we find out which 22 or 23 players will head overseas for the Hurricanes' exhibition game in St Petersburg, Russia, followed by the 2010-11 season opener in Helsinki, Finland.

What's happened since June 21st?

With the addition of AHL All-stars Bobby Sanguinetti and Jonathan Matsumoto via trade at the Entry Draft June 27th, and the signings of restricted free agents Jerome Samson, Zack Fitzgerald, Justin Peters, Casey Borer, Nicolas Blanchard, all to two-way contracts, we have a better sense of the depth that might be in the mix for a spot on the roster for the Hurricanes, or at the least, will be part of the Charlotte Checkers' first season in AHL minor league hockey. 

As for the veteran NHLers, on June 30, Rod Brind`Amour announced his de facto retirement and his plan to transition to a front office role. The next day, July 1, Ray Whitney signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, closing the door on any hopes he might return to Raleigh. As we were told to expect in April, it was announced on July 1 that Anton Babchuk would be bringing his [loose] canon of a slapshot back to Carolina, signing a one-year/one-way contract. And most recently, this past Wednesday, 33-year-old defenseman Joe Corvo took a cut in pay to return to the Canes and play with his former teammates and an organization with whom he felt he fit in very well.

 

Where does all this stand now?

So after all these decisions and contracts, what's left to accomplish over the next couple months? Because it seems this year's roster and salary status will be especially fluid throughout the season, I created a workable Excel spreadsheet that allows those of you who are so inclined to follow along as changes happen. You can download by clicking here: CC Salary worksheet 2010-11.

Below is a "fixed" look at the status of the team with what we know today. Clearly I've made some assumptions which I admit may be completely faulty as to who ends up in Raleigh and who plays in Charlotte. I was focusing more on the budget than the talent and positional strengths. That's why you may want to download your own sheet and get it the way YOU would place the players, and then have a solid grasp of the financial results in your proposed scenario.

 

Canes Country Roster/Salary Worksheet
2010-11 Season
HURRICANES (NHL) ROSTER Other Players w/Contracts (Two-way)
(players in gray cells have 2-way deals) (also known as: the AHL roster - not payroll)
 Name NHL Cap Hit  NHL Salary   Name NHL Cap Hit  NHL Salary 
FORWARDS (13) FORWARDS
 Eric Staal  $8,250,000   $7,500,000   Oskar Osala  $850,000   $785,000 
 Tuomo Ruutu  $3,800,000   $4,000,000   Chris Terry  $750,000   $625,000 
 Erik Cole  $2,900,000   $3,000,000   Stefan Chaput  $548,333   $565,000 
 Sergei Samsonov  $2,533,000   $2,800,000   Cedric McNicoll  $610,000   $550,000 
 Chad LaRose  $1,700,000   $1,900,000   Jared Staal  $566,667   $550,000 
 Jussi Jokinen  $1,700,000   $1,900,000   Matt Kennedy  $566,667   $550,000 
 Tom Kostopoulos  $916,667   $950,000   Patrick Dwyer  $500,000   $500,000 
 Brandon Sutter  $1,225,000   $875,000   Jerome Samson  $512,500   $500,000 
 Zach Boychuk  $1,195,833   $875,000   Matthew Pistilli  $521,667   $500,000 
 Drayson Bowman  $845,833   $687,500   Nicolas Blanchard  $512,500   $500,000 
 Zac Dalpe  $875,000   $637,500   11th Forward
 Jiri Tlusty  $500,000   $500,000   12th Forward
 Jon Matsumoto  $512,500   $500,000   13th Forward ?
 Total Forwards  $26,953,833   $26,125,000 
DEFENSEMEN (7) DEFENSEMEN
 Joni Pitkanen  $4,000,000   $4,500,000   Michal Jordan  $606,667   $580,000  
 Tim Gleason  $2,750,000   $3,000,000   Brett Bellemore  $533,333   $555,000  
 Joe Corvo  $2,250,000   $2,000,000   Kyle Lawson  $552,500   $540,000  
 Anton Babchuk  $1,400,000   $1,400,000   Zack Fitzgerald  $500,000   $500,000  
 Bobby Sanguinetti  $855,000   $765,000   Casey Borer  $500,000   $500,000  
 Jamie McBain  $850,000   $685,000   6th D-man
 Jay Harrison  $500,000   $500,000   7th D-man?
 Total Defense  $12,605,000   $12,850,000 
GOALTENDERS (2) GOALTENDERS
 Cam Ward  $6,300,000   $5,000,000   Mike Murphy  $783,333   $630,000  
 Justin Peters  $525,000   $500,000   2nd Goalie
 Total Goaltenders  $6,825,000   $5,500,000 
Total Salary for roster players  $44,475,000 
 # roster players  22
BUYOUTS
 Frantisek Kaberle  $733,333   $733,333 
 Rod Brind`amour  $3,600,000   $1,000,000 
 SALARY CAP  $59,400,000  w/buyouts:
 PAYROLL  $50,717,166  $46,208,333
 CAP SPACE  $8,682,834 

 

The first thing we notice is that if the Hurricanes financial analysts don't "count" the buyout amounts, at $44.475mil, Rutherford is still in that $44 to $45mil range that he stated was the goal three weeks ago. However, if the Kaberle and Brind`Amour buyout costs are applied to the total (there is something less than straightforward about this guesswork, agreed?), then he stands at $46.2mil and change. If a couple of the more expensive contracts are moved from the AHL to the NHL side of the ledger, that number goes up a bit more. Whichever accounting strategies are applied, it seems unlikely that there is room for anyone else receiving more than league minimum salary to be added this summer; at least, not without a major reconsideration from owner Peter Karmanos, Jr and his advisors to the anticipated sale.

The second thing to realize is that the Hurricanes have just 38 players under contract. Even at a bare minimum of 20 on the roster in Charlotte, there are likely four more positions to fill: two forwards, a defenseman and a goalie. Likely a 13th F and 7th D would be signed as well. And if/when there are injuries beyond those small margins, will they turn to the ECHL's Everblades, or decide then to sign another warm body to fill the void.

What happens next?

According to the free agent tracker the Canes have on their website, these are the remaining unsigned RFA's whom we can expect are first in line for those vacant spots (I've listed last year's salary amount as well).

Nick Dodge (C)..................$500,000 (09-10)

Bryan Rodney (D)...............$600,000 (09-10)

Justin Pogge (G)................$600,000 (09-10)

Even adding these three players, there are still not enough bodies to fill all the open spots. Who else can we expect has an open file on Rutherford's desktop labeled: "TBD: Potential Contracts"? Certainly newcomer forwards Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner are subject to further discussion. Skinner, at 18, will only be added if he is ready for the NHL. (Agreements between the leagues stipulate that CHL major junior players be at least 20 years of age before they are eligible to join an AHL team.) Nash is 21 and therefore could play at either level.

Then there are six established older pros who are now free agents, who played in Albany (and/or Raleigh) last season, but have yet sign anywhere. Will they return? The Canes have stated that the door is always open to Brett Carson and Alexander Picard to re-visit contract talks, and negotiations with versatile tough guy Tim Conboy were ongoing as of June 28th.

F Michael Ryan

D Brett Carson

Alexandre Picard

D/F Tim Conboy

D Steven Goertzen

D Mike Angelidis

As we continue to anticipate and analyze contract announcements as they are made, you might like to make use of the spreadsheet [here again: CC Salary worksheet 2010-11 ] and work through the lineups and resultant budget figures. And, finally, if you can work out a scenario by which we can fit in a competitive offer sheet (or trade) for Marc Staal, we want to hear it.

 

 

Enjoy your Monday!

Thanks to capgeek.com for many of these numbers. For a longer view of existing multi-year contracts, refer to the Canes Country Unofficial Salary Chart, always conveniently listed in the left rail on the front page.

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