The Carolina Hurricanes don’t have many forwards under contract next season, but they managed to secure one more on Monday, as they signed Teuvo Teravainen to a five-year, $27 million contract extension ($5.4 million AAV).
The 24-year-old is currently second on the team in points, with 39. He also finished second on the team in scoring last year, when he amassed 64 points in 82 games.
“Teuvo has improved every year of his NHL career and has established himself as a cornerstone forward for the Hurricanes now and into the future,” president and general manager Don Waddell said in a release. “He has shown that he is capable of adapting and expanding his role with our team, becoming a key penalty killer for Rod this season. He’s still just 24 years old and we believe he will only continue to grow as a player.”
Teravainen was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
This signing is a no-brainer for the Hurricanes, especially because Teravainen has been productive and they’re lacking it the scoring department. He’s improved his point production in each of the last three seasons and he’s on pace to surpass last year’s point total, too.
Carolina will now turn their attention to Micheal Ferland, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Ferland is reportedly looking for a long-term deal that would pay him $6 million per season. Even though he hasn’t been as productive as Teravainen, Ferland has more leverage because he’s eligible to hit the open market.
If that wasn’t the kill shot, Brind’Amour then feeling the need to apologize to Nino Niederreiter certainly was.
The latter was picked up in a trade earlier this week for Victor Rask. In his first game, his new teammates crapped the proverbial bed.
“Good. I thought he was fine,” Brind’Amour said about Niederreiter’s debut. “He had a couple chances. I think the first shift he almost had a breakaway. … I apologized to him for that effort. That’s not our team, and that’s his first game.”
It’s not often you hear about that sort of thing.
The Hurricanes had won seven-of-eight before dropping a 6-2 decision to the New York Rangers and Friday’s loss to the visiting Senators.
The Hurricanes are now nine points adrift from the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
There is no salary retained in the deal and is strictly a straight up one-for-one trade.
Both players still have three years remaining on their current deals, with Rask counting $4 million against the cap and Niederreiter carrying a $5.2 million hit against the cap.
At first glance this is an extremely curious move by the Wild because it is really difficult to see where they get better here other than saving a minimal amount of salary cap space and picking up a player that is one year younger.
When it comes to production and what actually happens on the ice, this would seem to be a step backwards.
Rask has been limited to just 26 games this season where he’s scored just a single goal and recorded five assists. That all comes after a disappointing 2017-18 season where his production dropped across the board and saw him record the worst numbers of his career. He is 25 years old, never tallied more than 48 points in a season and has seen his play regress over the past two years.
While Niederreiter has also been stuck in a down year, he has still been the more productive player over the past two seasons and is probably a better fit for what the Hurricanes need — A player that, in theory, can finish and score goals.
“We’re excited to welcome a proven goal-scorer and veteran presence in Nino Niederreiter,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a team statement. “We wish Victor the best moving forward and thank him for his efforts on the ice and in the community during his time in Raleigh.”
Niederreiter has pretty consistently scored at a 25-goal pace over 82 games in each of the past four years while also playing a really good two-way game where he can drive possession and control the puck.
Rask has topped the 20-goal mark once in his career, and that was four years ago.
The Hurricanes have been on a bit of a roll over the past two weeks but still sit seven points back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That is a pretty big mountain standing in front of them, but with Niederreiter signed beyond this season and being an upgrade it is a perfectly reasonable trade for a team in this situation to make.
The Wild, on the other hand, are one of the teams in the jumbled Western Conference wild card mix and just seemingly made themselves worse. Not significantly worse, but definitely worse. That is not something you ever want to do, especially when you are not even guaranteed a playoff spot.
Perhaps there is another shoe to drop and another trade to be made, especially with a little bit more salary cap space at their disposal. But in a vacuum this is a fairly bizarre trade for a team desperately fighting for a playoff spot to make.
Unless they are wildly optimistic about a chance of scenery and a fresh start sparking some sort of bounce back for Rask. There is not much evidence to suggest that is a strong possibility.
The Carolina Hurricanes are a team worth watching right now for a lot of reasons.
By winning eight of their past 11 games they have inched their way back into the playoff discussion in the Eastern Conference. At least enough to be considered on the bubble. Yes, five points back in mid-January is still a pretty big hill to climb, but they’re making a run at it.
They also have the Storm Surge celebrations after wins on home ice as they add a little excitement to the league. Great stuff.
One of the other reasons you should be keeping an eye on them is they are one of the most intriguing teams in the league when it comes to the upcoming Feb. 25 trade deadline because of the contract situations, the makeup of their roster, and their position in the standings.
The contract and roster situations include…
Almost all of their long-term commitments being on the blue line. All of their regular NHL defenders are signed through at least the end of next season, while four of them run through at least 2021 (and two of them go beyond 2024).
Their only goalie under contract beyond this season is Scott Darling … who is currently buried in the American Hockey League. Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney are both unrestricted free agents after this season.
Then there is the place in the standings. Like a lot of the teams in the Western Conference wild card race, the Hurricanes have to figure out exactly what they are this season — a team that has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs and might want to add something, or at least stay the course as currently constructed? Or are they a team that is too far back and needs to go into “sell” mode, especially with its current crop of free agents?
One thing is certain, the Hurricanes have a lot of intriguing players when it comes to potential trade chips.
For one, they still have a ton of depth along the blue line and could still flip one of their defenders for help elsewhere around the roster. Justin Faulk‘s name was all over the rumor mill during the offseason (especially after the addition of Dougie Hamilton) but remained with the team. There was also a rumbling in recent weeks that they might — might — be willing to listen to offers on Hamilton, but that seems like a real long-shot given that they are barely a half of a season into it and they would probably be dealing him at his lowest possible value. The best bet there is to hold on to him and trust that he regains the form and production he has shown throughout his career.
The forwards are where the real intrigue comes in because, again, so many of them are on expiring contracts.
It is probably pretty safe to say that Aho and Teravainen are not going anywhere. Not only are the team’s two best forwards, they are both young and just now entering their primes. Even if you assume the Hurricanes are not going to be a team that spends to the salary cap they still have all the flexibility in the world to get them signed.
The most likely player to get moved would seem to be forward Micheal Ferland (the other part of the Hamilton trade) who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season and is probably in line for a fairly substantial raise from his current $1.75 million salary. He would also probably be able to get that on the open market because he’s the type of player that appeals to pretty much everyone in the league. He has size, is physical, is probably going to be a 20-goal, 40-point player for the second year in a row and once again has strong underlying numbers. He’s a good player that a lot of teams would want — especially around playoff time.
The other variable in all of this is just where the Hurricanes sit in the standings as we get closer to the deadline.
They have been a patient team that has always kept the long-term goal in mind, and even with the recent surge they really haven’t picked up that much ground in the standings when it comes to wild card positioning. It’s still asking a lot for them to get in or to expect them to try and actually add to this roster this season by giving up younger, future assets.
But it is also a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008-09, and if they can stack a few more wins together and keep staying afloat in the race it might change how much they are willing to trade or sell off in the short-term.
There are a lot of different directions this can go in the coming weeks, and a lot of it will probably depend on how long they can keep up this recent strong play.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the past two weeks with wins in seven out of their past eight games. This little surge has allowed them to creep back to within four points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
They obviously still have a long way to go, and based on where they are in the standings and the deficit they still have in front of them the odds are not in their favor. But they are at least hanging around and trying to make a run at it, and they are kind of fun to watch.
One of the reasons they have been so fun is because they have been the best team in the NHL this season when it comes to angering the old guy that likes to yell at clouds due to the way they celebrate their wins on home ice.
You know, stuff like this.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what anybody else thinks of it because the players are obviously enjoying it, the fans are obviously enjoying it, and this is all supposed to be entertainment. If you can’t have fun when you’re winning then what the hell are we all doing here? What is the point of all of this?
Something different is good!
If I have one criticism of the whole thing it’s that they also don’t do it on the road to a chorus of boos from opposing fans. Let’s be honest here, a team from the south going into a place like, I don’t know, let’s say … Toronto … and doing this after a win would be pure comedy gold if only for the reactions it would cause.
Do it on the road you cowards!
With all of that in mind, this week’s PHT Power Rankings (one of our bi-weekly random rankings) will take a look at all of the Hurricanes’ victory celebrations.
All rankings are final.
1. Jan. 4 win vs. Columbus (Thor Hammer Strike)
This is the best one yet and I am not really sure there is a close contender at this point.
2. Nov. 23 win vs. Florida (The domino surge)
After doing the SKOL clap the Hurricanes line up staggered throughout the neutral zone and knock each other over like a bunch of dominoes. It’s different, it’s unique even for them, and to this point it is their best effort and most creative effort.
3. Jan. 11 win vs. Buffalo (Bowling for Hurricanes)
Captain Justin Williams goes bowling after a big win over the Buffalo Sabres. It is pretty self explanatory, but also pretty awesome. [Watch it here]
4. Dec. 31 win vs. Philadelphia (Putting the rookie in the net)
The Hurricanes are hoping that Andrei Svechnikov is going to put a lot of pucks in the net throughout his career. They celebrated their New Year’s Eve win over the Philadelphia Flyers by putting him in the net.
5. Oct. 8 and 10 wins vs. Vancouver and New York (The one that started it all)
There is always something to be said for the classics and the one that starts it all. You can see it in the video at the top.
6. Oct. 26 win vs. San Jose (Row the boat)
It starts off looking like the original, and then quickly escalates into something new. This is the first time we saw any sort of variation in the celebration. [Watch it here]
7. Nov. 18 win vs. New Jersey
This was when the celebrations really started to vary a little bit in terms of what they were doing instead of just a different variation of the original. It’s different. It’s good. But it’s not one of their best.
8. Dec. 23 win vs. Boston (Hello, Pucky the Whale)
Have to be honest here, am not really a fan of the celebration itself or the Hurricanes wearing Whalers gear. On the other hand, anything that involves Pucky The Whale is okay in my book. [Watch it here]
9. Dec. 16 win vs. Arizona (Ships passing in the night)
Half of the team lines up on one blue line, the other half lines up on the other, they do the SKOL clap, and then charge toward the glass at the opposite end of the rink, passing by each other. [Watch it here]
10. Nov. 21 win vs. Toronto (The one that made Brian Burke mad)
You just knew once they did this against a big-time original six team that the criticism would really start to come out, and that is exactly what happened when former Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke referred to all of this as “pee-wee garbage stuff.” Instead of the entire team charging toward the end glass, they all split up and went throughout the rink. [Watch it here]
11. Nov. 12 win vs. Chicago
12. Jan. 13 vs. Nashville
Sunday’s win against Nashville featured a variation of their Dec. 16 celebration against the Arizona Coyotes with the team splitting up at opposite blue lines, and then shoulder bumping at center ice. It’s okay. It’s not great. Such a big win over a Stanley Cup contender probably deserved more. [Watch it here]