One player who undoubtedly will be returning next year for the Carolina Hurricanes is Sergei Samsonov. Carolina General Manager, Jim Rutherford wasted no time in re-signing the talented and skilled Russian winger who scored 32 points in 38 games after he was picked up off waivers by the Canes about half way through last year.
Not only can Sergei score points, he also has amazing stick-handling abilities. But what surprised this blogger more than anything else was his ability and desire to play defense. He proved himself to be a reliable 2-way player for the Canes, and I'm sure that helped him to earn this contract.
The one time NHL rookie of the year was given a 3 year deal which will pay a total of 7.6 million, starting with 2.3 the first year, 2.5 the next, and 2.8 in the final. This signing now gives the Hurricanes the rights to ten, top 9 quality forwards and allows Rutherford some flexibility as he will most likely attempt to rebuild his blueline via trade. But who will he try to trade?
The deal also puts the Hurricanes current salary commitment for next year at 38.5 million. That does not leave a whole lot of room for the other players who need contracts. If we take a look at the Canes Country Salary Chart, we see that the following players are already under contract.
- Staal 5M
- Cole 4M
- Brind'Amour 4M
- Whitney 3.55M
- Williams 3.5M
- Cullen 2.8M
- Corvo 2.75M
- Ward 2.5M
- Walker 2.5M
- Samsonov 2.3M
- Kaberle 2.2M
- Wallin 1.75M
- Tanabe 900K
- Hamilton 800K
The following players are restricted free agents and need to be re-signed.
- Tim Gleason
- Tuomo Ruutu
- Patrick Eaves
- Dennis Seidenberg
- Chad LaRose
Money has to be saved for a back-up goalie and another defenseman or two, as well. If Peter Karmanos truly wants to keep the budget for next season's team at about the same level as last year, (46.5M), Jim Rutherford has some hard work ahead of him. We will be analyzing this problem and the various options that Rutherford has, on this blog in the coming days and weeks.
In the meantime, this signing will make most Caniacs happy because Samsonov was certainly a bright spot for the team during the past few months. Sergei will be taking a hefty pay-cut because he made about 3.5 million last year. He said in numerous interviews that he liked it here, and proved it by signing his name on the dotted line before he even had the chance to test the free agency market.
Professional hockey players are finding out what many of us have known for quite awhile, that the Triangle is one of the top places to live in North America. The climate is good, the economy is stable, the cost of living is reasonable, and it's a fun place to be and to play hockey.
Remember the old days when highly sought after free agents wouldn't even give a 2nd thought to playing here? Now we have top players taking cuts in pay and agreeing to contracts to play here before they even take the opportunity to test the open market.
Thank you Ron Francis for starting the trend.