Bill Peters opts out of contract to leave Hurricanes; next stop Calgary?

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Bill Peters had until Friday to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, freeing him from the final year of his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. He did just that, and will now hit the open market with the Calgary Flames a heavy favorite for his next landing spot.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill as a person and coach,” said Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said in a statement. “We thank him for his time with the Hurricanes and wish him success in whatever comes next.”

With $1.6 million guaranteed for next season if he stayed in Carolina, Peters wouldn’t be leaving without having a good idea that he’ll be able to step into another job this off-season. At the moment, there are head coaching openings with the Flames, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers.

Dundon wasn’t against Peters staying for the duration of his contract, as he’s shown he prefers keeping people around who have term left rather than firing them (Hi, Ron Francis!). But with Peters resigning, the Hurricanes are off the hook now for that $1.6 million.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

So where will Peters land? Well, the Flames have been the big favorite for a while, and the rumor mill sped up on Tuesday when Calgary decided to fire Glen Gulutzan after two seasons. General manager Brad Treliving said he wanted someone with NHL experience as a replacement and Peters would come to Alberta with a 137-138-53 record in four seasons with the Hurricanes, which includes zero playoff appearances.

It’s easy to tie Peters to the Calgary job. He’s from the area, worked with Treliving during the 2016 World Championships and got his start coaching in the Western Hockey League. It seems like it’s only a matter of time now.

As for the Hurricanes, they now have openings at GM and head coach. Team president Don Waddell is acting as interim GM during the search process. Rod Brind’Amour, who was one of Peters’ assistants, has seen his name out there as a potential replacement, same for the team’s assistant GM and AHL head coach Mike Vellucci. Both would come cheaper than what Alain Vigneault, Dave Tippett, Dan Bylsma or potentially Barry Trotz would command, so given Dundon’s methods so far, that just might be the direction they go.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters’ future with Hurricanes still an unanswered question

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The Carolina Hurricanes are already looking for a new general manager, but come Friday they could also be in need of a new head coach.

Per a clause in his contract, Bill Peters has three more days to activate his ‘out,’ freeing him of his deal which is for one more season at $1.6 million.

Peters has failed to guide the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a finish better than sixth in the Metropolitan Division in each of his four seasons behind the bench. New owner Tom Dundon is promising further changes, which began with moving Ron Francis from the role of GM to president of hockey operations.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

According to the News and Observer, other NHL teams have called the Hurricanes for permission to speak to the head coach. One of those teams that may have given Don Waddell, the Hurricanes’ president and interim GM, a ring is Calgary, where head coach Glen Gulutzan’s future is also up in the air.

“I’m not too worried about where I stand. I’ve never been too worried about where I stand,” Gulutzan said last week after the team’s exit interviews.

The Flames have been linked with Peters for his ties to the area and Calgary GM Brad Treliving, who tabbed him to lead Canada’s entry at the 2016 World Championships. Peters will coach Canada again this spring, no matter how things develop over the next few weeks. Then there’s the newly-opened position with the Dallas Stars. Peters was an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings when Stars GM Jim Nill worked there.

So, connections, Peters has a few. The question now becomes does he want to continue working under Dundon or are potential opportunities in Calgary, Dallas or elsewhere more desirable than the situation in Carolina?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Looking to make the leap: Noah Hanifin

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Carolina Hurricanes prospect Noah Hanifin is hoping to follow the footsteps of Aaron Ekblad and make the leap to the NHL after being the top defenseman selected in his draft class.

The 18-year-old, Norwood, MA native is going to get every opportunity be in the ‘Canes opening night lineup despite the crowded blue line in Carolina.

“We certainly think with his skating ability and his size, he has the potential to step in and play, but we’re certainly not going to rush him in that regard,” GM Ron Francis told the team’s website recently. “I think if you look at history, a lot of young defensemen take a little longer to develop.

“There have been more and more (defensemen) recently that have been able to step in and not only contribute, but have tremendous success.”

Carolina’s fifth overall selection in the June draft scored five goals and 23 points in 37 regular season games with Boston College last season.

His experience playing against older players while with the Eagles is one of the reasons Francis believes Hanifin will be able to make jump to the NHL this season.

“You look at what he did as a 17-year-old, he jammed in a bunch of classes to make sure he’s eligible for college and at 17 was playing against guys in that league that are 22, 23 and not only held his own, but excelled,” Francis said.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound blue liner believes with a full offseason of training he’ll be prepared for the NHL game.

“There’s a lot of good defensemen here and nothing is guaranteed. I’m going to put in a lot of good work this summer up until camp and I’m hoping I’m going to make it,” he said after signing his entry-level contract. “The pace of the game is going to be a lot higher, but with all the training I’m going to be putting in this summer, if I can continue to get better, I feel that I can go in (to camp) and do OK, do well.”

In order to make the leap, Hanifin will have to beat out some stiff competition. The ‘Canes currently have eight blue liners with NHL experience under contract for next season.

Coach Bill Peters is looking forward to watching the competition.

“What I see is there’s going to be an unbelievable competition on the back end between Hanifin, you’ve got (Haydn) Fleury, you got (Brett) Pesce you got (Jaccob) Slavin and then you’ve got all your returning guys,” Peters said following the club’s development camp. “I think the competition there is going to be very high and we’re just going to give everybody an opportunity and see who takes advantage of it.”

Semin’s agent says he’s closing in on a deal, critiques Bill Peters

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Alexander Semin stands as one of the most fascinating wild cards in NHL free agency, and it sounds like we’ll find out where he’ll land soon.

His agent Mark Gandler told Sovsport.ru that Semin should come to a decision soon. Here’s a translation of a rather saucy quote Gandler gave about Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, via Hockey VIPs Magazine:

“[Semin’s] career can only go up,” Gandler said. “He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game.”

As usual, the 31-year-old sniper’s strengths and weaknesses make him a pretty polarizing player. Granted, the “against” crowd is growing with each disappointing season, whether the letdowns come from injuries or a perceived lack of effort.

While his future destination and production stand as mysteries, it seems obvious that there are hard feelings between Semin and the Hurricanes.

Gandler took a swipe at Carolina’s head coach following GM Ron Francis’ comments about Semin’s lack of “compete level,” a criticism that’s been common throughout his career (fair or not). It’s been made repeatedly clear that the (once?) dangerous scorer doesn’t want to go to the KHL, so whenever his new team is revealed, drama-lovers are likely to circle his dates against the Hurricanes in 2015-16.

Related: Discuss possible destinations for Semin

Canes’ Murphy (lower body) to have an MRI

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The Carolina Hurricanes will be without defenseman Ryan Murphy tonight when they visit the San Jose Sharks.

Murphy was injured midway through the first period during Carolina’s 2-1 shootout victory on Thursday night in Arizona.

The 21-year-old took a high stick to the face from Arizona forward Lauri Korpikoski during his fourth shift of the game and appeared to get his left knee twisted on the way down.

According to Canes’ coach Bill Peters, Murphy will undergo an MRI on Monday in Carolina. He is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Brett Bellemore is expected to take Murphy’s spot on the Canes’ blue line.

Murphy has a goal and seven points in 21 games this season with the Canes while averaging 18:01 in ice time.