Can Hurricanes Fit Both Cole and Jokinen In The Budget?

It's almost July 1 and Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen still have not been re-signed. (photo by Jamie Kellner)

The Carolina Hurricanes have been extremely busy over the past few days, trying hard to re-sign their unrestricted free agents.  So far, Chad LaRose, Joni Pitkanen, and Patrick Dwyer have all been brought back into the fold. 

At the moment there is still plenty of room in the budget, but there are also several other players to bring in, including highly sought after UFA's Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen.  Both players will hit the free agent market at noon on Friday if they are not re-signed before then.

Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said this past weekend that the team's budget would probably be a couple of million over the mandatory cap floor (of $48,300,000).  Let's take another look to see where the club stands right now salary-wise and where they might end up.

 

Carolina Hurricanes Salary Chart as of, 6/30/11
Regulars currently under contract
2011-12
Cap Hit Actual Cash
1 F Staal  $    8,250,000  $   7,750,000
2 G Ward  $    6,300,000  $   6,300,000
3 F Ruutu  $    3,800,000  $   4,400,000
4 F Skinner  $    1,400,000  $       900,000
5 F Samson  $       512,500  $       525,000  
6 F LaRose  $    1,700,000  $   1,500,000
7 F Dwyer  $       625,000  $       600,000
8 D Gleason  $    2,750,000  $   3,500,000
9 D Corvo  $    2,250,000  $   2,500,000
10 D Allen  $    2,900,000  $   3,150,000
11 D McBain  $       850,000  $       735,000
12 D Harrison  $       700,000  $       650,000
13 D Pitkanen  $    4,500,000  $   4,500,000
 $ 36,537,500  $ 37,010,000
(Unsigned RFA's)
14 F Sutter  $   2,750,000  $   2,750,000 estimated
15 F Tlusty (UFA)
 $       600,000  $      600,000 estimated
16 D Joslin  $       700,000  $      700,000 estimated
 $   4,050,000  $   4,050,000
Sub Total  $ 40,587,500  $ 41,060,000
Finished season in Charlotte last year, (2 way) contracts
17 F Bowman  $       845,833  $       650,000
18 F Boychuk  $    1,195,833  $       787,000
19 F Dalpe  $       875,000  $       687,500
 $    2,916,666  $   2,124,500
Sub Total  $ 43,504,166  $ 43,184,500
20 UFA 4rth line center  $       750,000  $       750,000 estimated
21 UFA backup goalie  $       750,000  $       750,000 estimated
 $    1,500,000  $   1,500,000
Sub Total  $ 45,004,166  $ 44,684,500
Unsigned UFA's
22 F Erik Cole  $   4,000,000  $   4,000,000 estimated
23 F Jussi Jokinen  $   3,500,000  $   3,500,000 estimated
 $    7,500,000  $   7,500,000
Grand Total  $ 52,504,166  $ 52,184,500



Above is another rendition of a spreadsheet I created a few days earlier, this time with updates including the recent signings, as well as a few subtractions of redundant players.  (Although those players could eventually replace some of the ones listed above.)  For now, we will go with these.  Just keep in mind, nothing is written in stone here.

The Canes currently have 13 regulars under contract, including six defensemen.  It's expected that RFA Derek Joslin will be re-signed sometime after all the July 1 fireworks have died down, which would bring that total up to seven.

Brandon Sutter will also definitely be re-signed at some point, although at an unknown dollar amount.  (I'm guessing $2.5 to 3 million.)  Jiri Tlusty is a strong possibility to also come back, but another team could grab him on the open market.  I left Troy Bodie off the list for now because if the team signs a UFA fourth line center, he would be an extra body.  (The team might offer him a two-way deal.)

Next, I added in the three young forwards, (Boychuk, Dalpe, and Bowman) who are expected to push hard to make the big club.

Those six players bring the total body count to 19 with an estimated cap hit of about $43.5 million. 

Rutherford also said that he wanted to bring in a fourth line center and an experienced backup goalie, so lets assume they will earn under a million each and add them in. 

Now we're up to 21 players and have a cap hit, (and budget hit) of about $45 million.

That leaves us to Cole and Jokinen. 

I assumed an approximate cap hit of $4 million for Cole and $3.5 for Jokinen which would bring payroll up to $52.5 million including both of them.  Of course, the Canes usually don't keep a full roster of 23, so if they send a couple of the kids down to Charlotte you're getting pretty close to where they want to be.

But if both forwards are looking for even more money than that, it means Carolina can't bring both of them back without busting the budget.

(I also left off Cory Stillman, but he will become a factor if they can't sign Jokinen.)

The next 24 hours should be interesting.

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