In his season-ending press conference, Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis stated that he intended to make goaltending a high priority in the off-season, and it didn’t take long for that to come to fruition. The Canes announced this evening that they have acquired Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks. In exchange, Chicago will receive a 2017 third-round draft pick that the Hurricanes own from the Viktor Stalberg trade to the Ottawa Senators.
Darling is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the Hurricanes will have exclusive rights to negotiate a new contract with him until that time.
Francis told Chip Alexander of the News and Observer that he spoke with Darling for the first time after he and Chicago’s Stan Bowman completed the trade, and that the goaltender was “genuinely excited about the opportunity and the fact we stepped up and showed interest in trading for him.” He plans to start negotiating with Darling’s agent next week.
With Darling now on the roster, the Canes now face a position where they will need to expose two goaltenders to the expansion draft. Darling, assuming he is signed by the June 17 expansion draft deadline, will assuredly be the one goaltender that the Canes protect.
We projected on Tuesday that the Canes could pony up a draft pick or two to convince the Vegas Golden Knights to take a player other than Lee Stempniak; Francis knows what his answer will be, but would not comment to the N&O about what it is until Darling is signed to an extension. Chip speculates that Eddie Lack may be the target to move to Vegas if such a deal comes to pass.
The 28-year-old netminder is coming off a season where he posted an 18-5-5 record, a 2.38 goals-against average, and .924 save percentage. He’s one of the tallest goalies in the league at 6’6”, with only 6’7” Ben Bishop taller than him among NHL regulars this past season.
The team Press Release follows.
HURRICANES ACQUIRE SCOTT DARLING FROM CHICAGO
Goaltender went 18-5-5 for Blackhawks in 2016-17
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Ottawa's 2017 third-round draft pick. The Hurricanes will have exclusive negotiating rights with Darling until July 1, when he could become an unrestricted free agent.
"Scott had a very successful season in Chicago and was a big part of the Blackhawks finishing with the best record in the Western Conference," said Francis. "He played a critical role on Chicago's 2015 championship team."
Darling, 28, went 18-5-5, with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 32 games played for Chicago in 2016-17. He recorded the decision in each of his career-high 27 starts (18-5-4), with his lone non-start decision coming as an overtime loss on March 21 against Vancouver after he entered a 4-1 game just moments into the third period. Darling's .924 save percentage in 2016-17 ranked tied for fourth among all NHL goaltenders who started more than 25 games.
Born in Newport News, VA, but raised in Lamont, IL, Darling (6'6", 232 lbs.) made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Oct. 26, 2015. In 75 career NHL games with Chicago, he has posted a 39-17-9 record, a 2.37 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. In 2015, Darling went 3-1 in five opening-round playoff appearances against Nashville, helping the Blackhawks win their first-round series en route to their third Stanley Cup championship in six years. Originally drafted by the Coyotes in the sixth round, 153rd overall, in the 2007 NHL Draft, Darling played two seasons at the University of Maine before turning professional. Before making his NHL debut, he played games at nearly every North American professional level, including the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), ECHL, Central Hockey League (CHL) and American Hockey League (AHL).