A season ago, Patrick Dwyer finally earned a full-time NHL job, playing 58 games as a bottom six forward for the Carolina Hurricanes. His performance as a reliable grinder and capable penalty killer landed him a spot among the Canes’ forward corps for all of 2010-11. He played a similar role as last season, mostly earning time early in the season on the wing with Brandon Sutter, and later centering the fourth line while playing a key role on the PK throughout the campaign.
With unrestricted free agency looming, both Dwyer — who will turn 28 in June — and Carolina will need to decide if the role player has carved himself a spot in the Hurricanes' future.
#39 / Right Wing / Carolina Hurricanes
Jun 22, 1983
|2010-11 - Patrick Dwyer||8||10||18||-6||12|
The Good: In his limited role, Dwyer often finds a way to make a contribution each game. Usually, that came when Carolina was shorthanded. Only Sutter played more minutes on the penalty kill (192:56) among the Canes forwards than Dwyer (164:01) and he was on the ice for 18 power play goals against (one goal per 9.11 minutes shorthanded). Other statistics also weigh in his favor. In 80 games, he was fifth on the team (fourth among forwards) in hits with 166, second to only Sutter in blocked shots by forwards with 63, and his seven giveaways were by far the fewest by any of Carolina's full-time players — Chad LaRose is closest with 18 in 82 games. He also registered 104 shots on goal. Five of Dwyer's eight goals came with Carolina either trailing by one goal or tied, and two were game-winners. Finally, he had just 12 penalty minutes all season, the fewest of Carolina's full-time players.
The Bad: After scoring seven goals and adding five assists in just 58 games last season, Dwyer's production stalled a little and he finished with just eight goals and 18 points in 22 more games. Furthermore, 12 of those points and all but one of those goals came before the calendar flipped to 2011. In the season's final 22 games he had just one point (an assist) and he scored just once in 2011. While he accepted the role of fourth-line center late in the season, he won just 33.6 percent of his 158 faceoffs. Despite playing so many minutes on the penalty kill (usually as Sutter's wing), he managed just one shorthanded point, but it did happen to be his first career shorthanded goal.
The Money: Dwyer just finished the final year of a two-year, two-way contract that paid him $500,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. As an unrestricted free agent, Dwyer will be able to test the market but would likely accept $500,000 (or perhaps less) a season from Carolina if it meant he received a one-way deal. With LaRose's salary set to expire and Dwyer more suited for the wing than center, the Spokane, Wash., native could serve as a cheap replacement for LaRose (who earned $1.9 million in 2010-11) as a bottom six winger whose versatility and penalty killing make him more valuable than his numbers indicate. He could also increase his scoring if moved back to wing, as his number dipped significantly when he was centering the fourth line, and he already has chemistry with Sutter.