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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Miller signing has major implications in Carolina

On Friday, the Sabres announced that they have signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a five-year contract extension for a total of $31.25M. His current contract runs through this season, and he will make $3.5M. When the new contract begins, he will make $6.25M for each of the next five seasons. Crunchy is also an internationally renowned master of the pan flute, an accomplished amateur photographer, and has twice hiked the entire 2174-mile Appalachian Trail. Only one of those things is true.

This means a lot to the Carolina Hurricanes. In the summer of 2007, Carolina netminder Cam Ward was given a three-year deal that was EXACTLY the same as the three-year deal that Ryan Miller had been given by Buffalo. Cam Ward's contract runs through 09-10, and it seems likely that they will have no choice but to continue to use Cruchy's contract as a template. Barring a complete disaster, massive injury, or a late meteoric rise by Michael Leighton, Cam Ward will need to be pegged as the franchise goalie. Truth told, he's already been pegged as such. It's becoming more and more obvious that a franchise goalie is gonna have to get paid Kiprusoff money even if he can't carry a Brodeurian load.

The summer of 09 will present a much bigger challenge: Eric Staal. Hopefully, Jim Rutherford will break the silly franchise rule of not extending contracts until the final weeks before expiration. There is no doubt about the fact that Eric Staal is the face of this franchise, the captain-in-waiting. Hopefully he will be a Hurricane for life. Hopefully, they will get something worked out sooner than later so we don't have to fret about it next summer.

The big question, which is a bridge we're gonna have to burn when we get to it, is "at what cost Ward?". Assume that Staal gets a raise into the neighborhood of $6.5M. If Wardo is given the same contract and Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen's massive blueline contracts are taken into account, something's gonna have to give. "New, more fiscally responsible NHL"? What?

Three summers in a row since I've been paying close attention, Darcy Regier has let players walk away or slip through the cracks. This time, he did the right thing. He did the right thing by locking down their franchise goaltender, and it's a bit of a surprise. A surprise that Regier worked something out, and a surprise that the contract is as long as it is.

The only trouble is, Regier's play will force Carolina into a tough spot in the summer of 2010 when they need to re-ink Ward.

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