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Carolina Salaries: Where Are They Now and Where Are They Going?

As I mentioned last week, I have received several emails asking about the Hurricanes salary situation.  Where do they stand on their current salary structure?  Where will they end up?  Will they be able to reach the mandatory salary floor?  Who can they afford to bring back?

While several factors are still fluid, in so much that we do not know exactly how much certain players will sign for, we do know what the new Salary Cap Ceiling and Floor is, and we can make some educated guesses how much those unsigned players will end up getting.  

Last week it was announced that the new Salary Cap is $64,300,000 which makes the new Salary Floor, $48,300,000.

If you look at the spreadsheet after the jump, you'll see that while the Hurricanes are currently quite away from the mandatory floor, if the Canes re-sign most of their unsigned RFA's and UFA's. they will have no problem reaching that floor.  As a matter of fact, they will be well over it.


Carolina Hurricanes Salary Chart as of, 6/27/11
Regulars currently under contract
Cap Hit Actual Cash
F Eric Staal  $    8,250,000  $   7,750,000
G Cam Ward  $    6,300,000  $   6,300,000
F Tuomo Ruutu  $    3,800,000  $   4,400,000
F Jeff Skinner  $    1,400,000  $       900,000
F Jerome Samson  $       512,500  $       525,000  
D Tim Gleason  $    2,750,000  $   3,500,000
D Joe Corvo  $    2,250,000  $   2,500,000
D Bryan Allen  $    2,900,000  $   3,150,000
D Jamie McBain  $       850,000  $       735,000
D Jay Harrison  $       700,000  $       650,000
G Justin Peters  $       525,000  $       550,000
Sub Total  $ 30,237,500  $ 30,960,000
Finished in Charlotte last year
F Drayson Bowman  $       845,833  $       650,000
F Zach Boychuk  $    1,195,833  $       787,000
F Zac Dalpe  $       875,000  $       687,500
D Justin Faulk  $       843,333  $       790,000
 $    3,759,999  $   2,914,500
Sub Total  $ 33,997,499  $ 33,874,500
Unsigned RFA's
F Brandon Sutter  $   3,000,000  $   3,000,000 estimated
F Jiri Tlusty  $       600,000  $      600,000 estimated
F Troy Bodie  $       550,000  $      550,000 estimated
D Derek Joslin  $       700,000  $      700,000 estimated
 $    4,850,000  $   4,850,000
Sub Total  $ 38,847,499  $ 38,724,500
Unsigned UFA's
F Erik Cole  $   3,500,000  $   3,500,000 estimated
F Chad LaRose  $   2,200,000  $   2,200,000 estimated
F Jussi Jokinen  $   3,000,000  $   3,000,000 estimated
D Joni Pitkanen  $   5,000,000  $   5,000,000 estimated
F Cory Stillman  $   2,000,000  $   2,000,000 estimated
F Patrick Dwyer $       700,000 $       700,000 estimated
 $ 16,400,000  $ 16,400,000
Total  $ 55,247,499  $ 55,224,500
UFA 4rth line center  $    1,000,000  $   1,000,000
UFA backup goalie  $    1,000,000  $   1,000,000

First of all, Jim Rutherford has a lot of work to do.  He only has 10 players under contract who were regulars last year, (Justin Peters is number 11 but we shouldn't count him), and the total of those salaries is a shade over $30 million.

The team has four more players who finished in Charlotte last year, but who have a pretty good chance of making the Hurricanes this season.  Those four are also under contract and their cap hit total is almost $4 million, pushing the total to $34 million.

The club has four RFA's to sign with the biggest question being Sutter's new deal.  He could get lower, he could get higher, but let's use $3 million as the cap hit number.  The other three players should all be under a million each.  If they bring back all four players, that pushes the total to almost $39 million.

Now things get interesting regarding the UFA's. 

Erik Cole made $3 million last year and will want a raise.  Jussi Jokinen probably wants in the neighborhood of $3 million.  If Joni Pitkanen gets a raise from his $4.5 million of earnings last year, those three players alone will bump up the cap hit total to the $51 million range.  And that does not include LaRose, Stillman, and the currently unknown 4rth line center and experienced back up goalie. 

Rutherford said over the weekend that he expected the team's budget to be perhaps a couple of million over the cap floor, so he can't get too crazy regarding the UFA's. 

Still, the $51 million range is a far cry from the $64 million range that the big market teams will be spending.  Imagine being able to spend another $13 million in free agency? But that's a different story for a different day.

Some folk mentioned that they felt Rutherford's apparent renewed interest in re-signing Jokinen and Pitkanen is based upon the higher Salary Cap Floor, but I disagree.  Last year the Hurricanes spent about $50 million and I believe they intended to spend about the same this coming season, which is well over the new floor. 

One thing that has changed though is that the "looming" trade for a defenseman last week is now officially dead.  Rutherford confirmed that to me at the draft.  Coincidentally, John-Michael Liles and Brent Burns were both traded over the weekend. 

Perhaps one of those blueliners was the target and now that the deal is dead, that is why there is renewed interest in Pitkanen?

We will never know the inside stories behind the negotiations, posturing, and deal making, but things will certainly be interesting in the next week or so.  We'll be watching.

((NOTE)) Please be advised that I am not implying that every player on the above list will make the final roster.  This is not meant to be a look at the opening day roster and salary cost on opening day, this is just meant to be a worksheet showing what the numbers might look like if certain players are signed and others make the team.  You can do your own adding and subtracting depending upon who you think will make the final cut.

(Cap numbers accumulated with help from Cap