Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 06/28/11 at 06:17 PM ET
When I wrote the other day about how the cap floor might give the Canes fits, I guessed at how the UFA situations would pan out. I posited that rugged fourth-line winger Patrick Dwyer would get a two-year renewal at a $650k cap hit per season. I was only off by a few pennies. Today, they signed the 28-year old native of Spokane, WA to a two-year renewal with a cap hit of $625k per season.
I also wrote that Dwyer is the new Chad LaRose and that fans better get used to the idea of Sharpie being out of the picture. It’s not that I don’t like LaRose; contrarily, he’s one of my favourite players on the team. It’s just that a team with a very tight budget can’t afford to pay Chad LaRose the way that they just paid him. He made $1.9M this past season with a cap hit of $1.7M. This is a reversal of stance from two summers ago when I said that he deserved every penny (and then some) of the huge pay raise. It may sound a little contradictory for me to say that the Canes are going to have a rough time getting to the floor, then in the same breath say that they can’t afford to see/raise Chad LaRose, but I’ll try to make sense of it.
Sharpie‘s a really good guy, a fantastic penalty killer, the second hardest-working guy the Canes have ever had, a reliable two-way player with lots of position flexibility, a great teammate and one of the most favourite of fan favourites. These are all great things, but he’s never going to contribute more than 16 goals and 15 assists in a season. Is it worth it to pay a young guy $2M or more just because he’s a swell guy while a guy with similar or better numbers is available on the market? I say no. Every team should have a Chad LaRose, and Carolina has been lucky enough over the past six seasons to have a guy named Chad LaRose to fill the “Chad LaRose” role.
Now, they’ve got another “Chad LaRose” named Patrick Dwyer. He comes much cheaper and can offer just about everything that Chad LaRose can offer. They’re almost identical in their physical attributes, work ethic and skill set. Two summers ago I said that LaRose should have been paid even more than the two-year, $3.4M contract renewal he got. Now that I’ve had time to take off my LaRose-coloured glasses (sorry for the bad pun), it just doesn’t make sense for Carolina to continue to pay him like that. Some team with a bigger budget might love to pay Chad LaRose more than $2M per season, but it shouldn’t be the Canes.
The last time Sharipe opted to try the free agent market, he re-signed with Carolina after just one day on the open market. I sincerely think that he’ll get gobbled up on the first day this summer. And it’ll be a very sad day for some Caniacs. I won’t be happy to see him go, but it’ll be good for him and good for the Canes to still have a “Chad LaRose” in Patrick Dwyer without having to spend a ton of money.
Of course this money-saving effort will seem counter-effective, on first blush, to the efforts just to reach the cap floor. However, it gives the Canes more to spend money on Erik Cole or Jussi Jokinen. It also gives them an opportunity to be in the running for a guy like Tyler Kennedy, who was not given a qualifying offer by the Penguins. The Pens are still hopeful that they can get Kennedy, who scored a career high 45 (21/24) points this past season, re-signed. Not, though, until they can sort out the Jaromir Jagr situation. If the Canes or any other team strike a deal with Kennedy early on July 1, there’s nothing the Penguins can do about it. I don’t think that Kennedy will land here in Carolina, but it’s something to think about.
No matter, the Canes need to look for, at the very least, a fourth line center. And probably a top six winger.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.