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Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Scott Darling to four-year, $16.6 million contract

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The Canes have their new starting goaltender under contract until 2021.

Chicago Blackhawks v Ottawa Senators

Last Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Scott Darling in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks with the intention of making the longtime backup their starting goaltender. One week later, nearly to the hour, the Canes made that intention official.

The Canes have signed Darling to a four-year, $16.6 million contract paying him an average of $4.15 million per year through the 2020-21 season. The contract is a significant increase on Darling’s $600,000 salary this past season, and is more than a million dollars higher than the salaries next season for Cam Ward ($3.1 million) and Eddie Lack ($3 million), indicating that the Canes have every intention of making Darling their new starter and parting ways with one of their other two goaltenders.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Darling’s contract includes a limited no-trade clause.

Darling’s salary is nearly identical to that of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot, who is signed through 2018-19 at a cap hit of $4.15 million per season. Talbot was earlier this week compared by our Brett Finger as the most relevant comparable to Darling, and the salary structure seems to mirror that comparison.

General manager Ron Francis indicated last Friday upon acquiring Darling that he had not made contact with the pending unrestricted free agent goaltender or his agent, but that he planned to start negotiations this week. Given that Darling signed within a matter of days, it can be assumed that Francis got his man with comparatively little negotiation and that he will fit nicely into the Canes’ salary structure.

Darling will be available to the media tomorrow at noon, and we will have coverage of his press availability. The release from the team follows.

HURRICANES, DARLING AGREE TO FOUR-YEAR DEAL
Goaltender was acquired from Chicago on April 29

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Scott Darling on a four-year contract through the 2020-21 season. The deal will pay Darling a total of $16.6 million and carries an average annual value of $4.15 million per season.

“Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent,” said Francis. “But he believes in what we are trying to do here and we are thrilled that he is committing to the Hurricanes and to Raleigh.

Darling, 28, was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on April 29 in exchange for Ottawa’s third-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. Born in Newport News, VA, but raised in Lamont, IL, he 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. Darling recorded the decision in each of his career-high 27 starts (18-5-4) for the Blackhawks, 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.

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).