The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t have the most eventful of summers, but that’s because they made their big moves ahead of time.
Forwards Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jeff Skinner are all entering the first season of their respective long-term deals and while they are all are great players, each of them come with a significant amount of risk too.
Among them, Staal’s 10-year, $60 million deal is in some ways the safest. Although it’s also the longest contract by far, Staal is only 24 years old. When Carolina originally acquired him, there was some speculation that he would end up playing primarily with his older brother, Eric, but instead Staal fell into the role of the team’s second-line center.
Staal scored 10 goals and 31 points in 48 games last season, although he also finished near the bottom of the league with a minus-18 rating. Still, it’s not hard to envision Staal being a good top-six forward for years to come provided he can stay healthy, which leads us to Skinner.
There’s no question that the 2010-11 Calder Trophy winner is talented, but he’s just 21 and has already dealt with concussions in back-to-back seasons. Skinner is also coming off of a disappointing campaign on the ice. He got off to a strong start, but fizzled with just five goals and nine points in his final 28 games. Skinner is about to begin a six-year, $34.35 million contract.
Both forwards have sizable cap hits, but they’re exceeded by Alexander Semin’s five-year, $35 million deal. Semin disappointed in 2011-12 and that combined with questions about his attitude led him to eventually settle for a one-year “prove it” contract with Carolina. He responded with 13 goals and 44 points in 44 games.
Still, Semin has now had four fantastic seasons and three that left something to be desired, not counting his 22-point rookie campaign. Even during his rougher seasons, Semin is at least serviceable, but Carolina is paying him far too much to be happy with a moderate level of production.
At the end of the day, all long-term contracts come with a certain degree of risk. Whether or not these pay off could dictate the Hurricanes’ fate for years to come.