General Manager Ron Francis has some important decisions to make in the coming weeks. These decisions will most likely affect his team for years to come.
At the top of the GM's list is most likely, how much money should the Carolina Hurricanes offer to pending free agents, Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty?
Francis has stated that he likes both players and wants to bring each of them back. But of course the dilemma is, at what cost and for how long?
Let's take a look at the situation on defense first.
The Canes acquired Sekera during the 2013 draft when they traded Jamie McBain and their second round pick, (the 35th overall), for the blueliner. Some liked the deal at the time and some did not, but Sekera has put up career best numbers since the acquisition and he will be missed if the club does not re-sign him.
Last season he scored 11 goals and had 33 assists for a total of 44 points, shattering his previous career highs. His offensive numbers this year have fallen off a bit, but he is still second on the team with a 22:44 TOI average. Justin Faulk leads the team at 24:09 while Ron Hainsey is third and is almost a full two minutes per game behind Sekera.
Last season he led the team with 23:40 of TOI and posted a (+4) while Faulk, his partner for much of the year, was at (-9).
His 15 points so far this season ranks him at ninth on the team and he is second in scoring on the backend, only behind Faulk.
The blueliner also presently leads the team with 79 blocked shots. Last season he posted a team high 127 blocks and played eight fewer games than Hainsey, who was next in line with 124.
Francis might be a little gun shy about offering any long term contracts at this point but Sekera should be in the prime of his career at age 29 and could find a windfall at his doorstep if he waits until this summer to hit the open market.
Last summer, there were some wild signings with defensemen Brooks Orpik (5 years, 27.5M) and Matt Niskanen (7 years, 40.25M) getting huge, long term deals. Although, also highly sought after Christian Ehrhoff (1 year, 4M) and Anton Stralman(5 years, 22.5M) signed for more reasonable money.
One never knows what will happen.
Following is a listing of some of the top pending free agent defensemen, a group of players that Sekera will be compared to and going against and also a list to choose from if the Hurricanes lose the blueliner. (from NHL Numbers)
|Pending Free Agents - Defensemen|
More than a couple of the players on that list have seen better days and a couple of more are over age 40.
Sekera's salary looks paltry in comparison to those guys because for whatever reason, his contract was front end loaded, meaning he was paid more in the first two years of his four year deal, that has a cap hit of $2.75 million.
He will certainly be getting a healthy raise, the only question is how much and for how long.
If the Canes cannot sign him and decide to trade him before the deadline, who would you like to take his place? Keep in mind, some of those players on the list will probably be re-signed by their current team. For instance, I doubt Johnny Boychuk sees the open market, he is fitting in very well with the Islanders.
Many fans agree that the Hurricanes need to make changes if they want to improve. Andrej Sekera seems to be one piece they would be better off keeping, if they can agree to reasonable terms for both sides.