A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Canes, Brind'Amour reach five-year deal. Plus Cs and As.

On Friday, Rod Brind'Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes agreed to a long-term contract which will keep the Captain in Carolina until he is 40. Brindy, who won the Frank J. Selke award for the best defensive forward, will be retained for five years at a total of $18M. He was scheduled to be up for a team/player option next season, and the Canes made sure they kept him.

This also virtually ensures that nobody else will be wearing the C until at least 2011. This season, the Hurricanes used three players in a rotating Alternate Captain role.
  • Defenseman Glen Wesley, who is 97 years old, will likely retire this summer after finally getting his name on the Cup after 17 years in the league and 4 Cup Finals.

  • Left wing Cory Stillman joined the team prior to the 2006 season, and has two years remaining on his contract. He joined an elite club by winning the Cup in consecutive seasons with different teams. He had a very good regular season, scoring 76 points (21/55) in 72 games. With 26 points (9/17) and a +12 rating in the playoffs, he was also a serious Conn Smythe candidate. He'll most likely retain the A.

  • Center Kevyn Adams has one year remaining on his contract with the Canes. He has been a fourth-line workhorse and a community favorite since joining the Canes in 2002. He was promoted to "A" prior to this season, which raised a few eyebrows, but made me quite happy.

If Wesley indeed retires, and Carolina decides to stay with the three rotating As, there's a big question about who it would be. Three very likely candidates, who are all restricted free agents:

  • Center Eric Staal, who led the team with 100 points (45/55). He was also a strong Conn Smythe candidate, leading the league with 28 playoff points (9/19). This was the final year of his rookie contract, and he will likely command $3.5M next season. Hopefully a long-term contract. And maybe a little brother. He is the future face of this franchise, and Jim Rutherford knows this. This one is a no-brainer. But is he ready to wear an A?

  • Right wing Erik Cole was a little tricky last summer, and signed a one year deal. He missed the last 22 games of the regular season and the first 23 games of the playoffs with a C-5 fracture. He scored 59 points (30/29) in 60 games, which was already the best point total of his career. Because he is 27 years old, he will be a restricted free agent, meaning no team can poach him without compensating the Hurricanes handsomely. He provided inspiration to the Canes fans with his recovery from the accident, and has always been a crowd favorite. He got $1.14M this season, and will likely see a big raise. Maybe double that. I'd like to see him in a long term contract, but there's the chance that the Canes will view his injury and susceptibility to a career ending re-injury as a liability. Who knows what'll happen there.

  • Right wing Justin "Viva" Williams. Williams is only 24, and is a rising star. His 76 points (31/45) this season were almost double his previous career best. His 18 playoff points (7/11) were very impressive as well. The "new NHL" is perfect for a speedy two-way guy like Viva. There's no reason in the world not to offer him a multi-year deal. Anyway, it would help validate my late-season purchase of his #11 sweater. I haven't worn it yet; I didn't want to mess up the mojo, so I wore the Vasicek #63 for the entire season and playoffs. He was paid $1.225M this season, and was well worth it. I expect to see a three year deal totaling $8M for him. I'm not sure that he's leadership material, so maybe he shouldn't be considered for the A afterall, but he's absolutely a guy that needs to be kept for a long time.

For the record, the League does not allow goaltenders to wear a C or A, so Cam Ward is right out.

The only defenseman I would consider to be worthy of consideration for an A would be AWard. However, he's getting up there in age, he took a beating in the playoffs, and he isn't under contract anymore. Although he's one of my favorite players, and is certainly a leadership-type guy, I just don't see him as a long-term part of this franchise. He should be re-signed on a year-by-year basis.


Chris said...

Of the three, I wouldn't be surprised if Cole gets it. Staal and Williams are younger and have more time.

Josh Crockett said...

There's part of me that suspects we're going to lose one of those three guys, unless we can pull a rabbit out of a hat and dump Tverdovsky's salary on someone rich and foolish. If only Mike Milbury were still running a team.

Staal is the guy the franchise absolutely cannot afford to lose -- he's getting the C whenever Brind'Amour retires, barring him flying the coop for buckets of cash and/or a chance to play with a brother. (Which is why, despite our D needs, I'd jump all over a Jack Johnson-to-PIT trade for the #2 pick if it'll yield us Jordan Staal -- IIRC the family grumbled a little over us not taking Marc last year).

Statistically, Cole and JWill are pretty similar. Analytically, #26 is the guy you sacrifice if you have to -- older, more injury risk as a result of the C-5 -- but while Staal is the face of the franchise, Erik Cole's the heart, and I hope he gets an A if he's back on a multi-year deal (I kinda think he might have had it this year if not for Stillman).

The wildcard with letters is that most coaches like to spread them out across the lines so that you almost always have one out on the ice. That could block Cole if he stays on a line with Staal.

Bill Purdy said...

Why is it always assumed Staal will be Brindy's eventual replacement? He's 22 years old, and has yet to mature into the kind of leader worthy of wearing a C. Maybe in 10 years (not 5), I can see it happenening. But a lot can happen in 10 years, rendering such predictions frivolous.

I think Cole is a more likely choice, should he re-up with the team. He's been the PR face of the team even in troubled times (it takes a true leader to pose for that dorky Buckle Up poster), and he's a genuine inspiration -- even when healthy (remember the near swan dive we took in the month after he was hurt?). Cole deserves the 'A.'

Stormbringer said...

"For the record, the League does not allow goaltenders to wear a C or A, so Cam Ward is right out."

You probably know the following, but a tiny history lesson for those who don't: Goalies used to be able to be captains.

I *really* wish there was a site that went into detail about this subject. Particularly how long the trend lasted AND how many goalies were captains. I only know about this because one, if not both of my hockey coffeetable books have pictures of goalies with the 'C' on their chest AND it has been discussed a time or two at the boards I occasionally read.

nuts4pucks said...

Cole is the best pick for the "A" here. He has been "old" in terms of maturity since his rookie season. He is well spoken, thoughtful and a very inspirational leader both in how he plays and in how he interacts with people. Did you notice how he spoke at length with most of the Oilers players in the handshake line? This presupposes we get him signed, preferably to a long term deal that suitably rewards him for all that he has brought to this team. I see no reason to believe that he will be anything other than a premiere power forward in this league for a long, long time. I'd breathe a big sigh of relief if we could get him locked up for a long time.

kubiak said...

Brind'Amour signing for 5 more years is great news to start the postseason with. Can't wait to see who re-signs and when, and what happens during the draft later!


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