The Carolina Hurricanes expect to have forward Martin Necas signed to a new contract and ready for the start of preseason training camp.
And, president and general manager Don Waddell said Thursday, the Canes will have the needed money under the NHL salary cap to get it done.
Necas, a former first-round draft pick by Carolina, is a restricted free agent and has been the source of various speculation in the league, including possible trades or even an offer sheet from another team.
But Waddell said the negotiations could end with a shorter bridge deal for Necas. While Waddell did not elaborate, it’s believed a potential deal could be for two years and about $3 million per season.
“We’re speaking on almost a daily basis and it’s getting close,” Waddell said. “I can only speak for my side of it, but it’s going to get done.”
According to CapFriendly com, which tracks NHL player salaries, the Hurricanes had $1.88 million in available cap space on Thursday.
The Canes are scheduled to have a salary arbitration hearing with defenseman Maxime Lajoie on Aug. 9. Waddell said Thursday he anticipates a settlement being reached with Lajoie, a restricted free agent, before the arbitration hearing.
Lajoie signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina last year that paid $750,000 at the NHL level or $75,000 at the AHL level. I have played five games with the Canes last season, spending most of the year with the AHL Chicago Wolves.
Reaching a settlement with Lajoie would allow the Hurricanes a contract buyout window, Waddell said. He did not say if the team would use the buyout, but it could be used to free up cap space.
“A buyout window is only for a player who makes more than $4 million,” Waddell said. “But if we don’t do anything, we’re going to be fine. It will be tight but we’ll be fine.”
Canes defenseman Jake Gardiner was placed on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) last season after undergoing hip and back surgery. Gardiner, who has been medically cleared to return to hockey this season, has one year remaining on his contract with a $4.05 million cap hit.
The Canes, like many teams, retooled part of their roster in the offseason, losing forwards Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter, and defenseman Tony DeAngelo. They traded for defenseman Brent Burns, a former Norris Trophy winner with San Jose, and forward Max Pacioretty, and signed free-agent forward Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
Of the Kase signing, Waddell said, “He’s had some injuries, but if you look at his points-per-minute when he has played, it’s very good. His analytics from him are strong in every part of the ice. We just think it’s very low risk with a lot of potential upside.”
Waddell said the roster for next season was pretty much set, although he did not rule out any further moves.
“We’re always talking,” Waddell said. “We are talking to some teams. You always want to be in the conversation. The last thing I want is somebody to get traded where I said, ‘Aw, I wish I took another shot at him or knew he was on the market.’ You try to stay in touch.”
Waddell meets with Centennial Authority
Waddell attended a Centennial Authority board meeting Thursday at PNC Arena. The naming-rights agreement for the arena ends this month and Waddell said, “We’re in some heavy negotiations with multiple companies right now.”
Waddell said PNC Bank is one of the companies involved but did not name any others.
Waddell also said he has continued his lobbying efforts to have online sports gambling legalized in North Carolina. A gambling bill failed in the recent legislature sessions of the General Assembly, at a time when proposed renovation plans for PNC Arena included talk of opening a sportsbook at the arena.
“I’ve learned a lot about politics in the last six months,” Waddell said. “Our goal is to try to continue to explain why this benefits not only this region, but the whole state and the economic impact that it can have for the whole state.”
Waddell made some general comments to the authority Thursday about the Hurricanes and the 2022-23 season. I have noted the NHL salary cap, saying, “If there wasn’t a cap there, we’d keep spending. Our owner (Tom Dundon) is very competitive and wants to win.”