Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 06/30/11 at 01:22 AM ET
Things have been a little crazy this summer in Carolina. The UFA situation is muddy one minute, clear the next. Negotiations with the players have gone from “we’re nowhere near” to “there should be a signing any second now” and back again. Sometimes, those tidal flows occur several times a day.
All summer long, the assumption was that Joni Pitkänen would become a UFA, but he surprised everybody by signing a three-year contract renewal with no pay raise. It was also assumed that Chad LaRose would look for greener pastures in the Free Agent market. Today, there was another unexpected turn when the 29-year old Sharpie signed a two-year valued at a total of $3.4M. The contract is identical to the one that he signed in the summer of 2009: the first of two years at $1.5M and the second at $1.9M.
Based on what I had heard and read, I was assuming that LaRose’s agent was asking for more than $2M. I was also assuming that Chad was set on entering the free agent market. I wasn’t alone in thinking this. And I wasn’t alone in thinking that Carolina only needed one Chad LaRose and had found a new one in Patrick Dwyer. Many Caniacs agree with me that despite Sharpie‘s off ice attributes and his amazing work ethic, it’s a lot of money for a 16-goal scorer. Now that he’s six seasons in, he’s shown that he’s probably reached his offensive output plateau. He certainly had opportunities to excel this past season. He spent time on the top line. He spent time at every forward position. He wasn’t limited to third line and PK minutes. I thought there was no way that Carolina could give him a raise. I assumed that he would be looking for one.
When Patrick Dwyer signed a one-way contract renewal, and given the news at the time from the LaRose camp, I assumed that Sharpie would be gone. I eulogized him and assumed that he’d land in some place like Chicago or Detroit.
I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting the Pitkänen re-signing either. Now I know to expect the unexpected.
That said, I still doubt very much that Erik Cole will be back in Raleigh this autumn. Except as a visiting player. I still hold out hope that Jussi Jokinen will re-sign. If nothing else, I think that fellow Finns Joni Pitkänen and Tuomo Ruutu might be able to convince him to stay.
The Canes will have to spend something like $4M on a free agent right winger to replace Cole in the top six. It’s hard to guess at this point. And the way things have been going, I won’t be surprised by anything.
On Thursday, I’ll expect to see Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen re-signed. Jokinen for about $2.75M and Sutter for about $3.5M.
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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.