Qualifying offers were due today to the Hurricanes players who are Restricted Free Agents as of July 1. The Hurricanes tendered offers to all of their RFA’s except for Troy Bodie and Jiri Tlusty.
Qualifying offers are, at the minimum, a players current salary plus 10% (but can be much, much higher than that, too.) If the player agrees with the offer, they can sign it and the deal is done. If they do NOT agree with the offer, they can take the team to arbitration, where a board compares the offer with comparable players and contracts and issues a new offer. The team can decide to accept this new contract, or allow the player to become an Unrestricted Free Agent.
An example of a player who went the arbitration route would be Antti Niemi, the 2010 Stanley Cup winning goaltender for the Chicago Blackhawks. He didn’t like the qualifying offer he was given, so he took his team to arbitration where he was awarded $2.75 million. The Blackhawks determined that Niemi wasn’t worth that much to them (and they were, and continue to be in salary cap trouble), so they let him go. Niemi ended up signing with the San Jose Sharks for five years at $3.8 million a year, so clearly he is making a lot more money thanks to arbitration and the Blackhawks letting him go. Of course, this is an example of where the player came out on top. It’s also possible for the arbitration award is too high not only for the player’s current team, but for the free agent market.
According to Jim Rutherford, just because Tlusty and Bodie were not given offers does not mean he will not resign them. The Hurricanes are interested in a two-way contract for Bodie, and a one-way deal for Tlusty, but to avoid the potential of arbitration, had to let them go without qualifying offers. Last season, the Hurricanes did not give Brett Carson a qualifying offer, but ended up re-signing him on a two-way contract.
According to the Hurricanes, current Checkers Bobby Sanguinetti, Brett Bellemore, Brett Sutter, and Oskar Osala were all offered qualifying offers. Osala has said he is playing in the KHL next season, but to retain his rights while playing in Europe, the Hurricanes had to make him an offer.
Rutherford also stated that he would like to negotiate with UFA Checkers Bryan Rodney, Casey Borer and Nick Dodge. He said again that he was going to let Justin Pogge go, and was undecided about Zack Fitzgerald.
Personally, I’m not at all surprised at the last two names. Pogge served as a good goaltender this season, but he is clearly not the future of the Hurricanes. With Justin Peters and Mike Murphy, there is no room in the organization for a third minor league player, and Murphy and Peters show more promise and potential.
As for Fitzgerald, he is clearly a fan favorite, and part of the heart and soul of the Checkers, but the bottom line is I don’t believe he is a huge asset to the Hurricanes. While he’s fantastic for the fans, and a great leader on and off the ice, he is not what I would consider to be an NHL defenseman, even for short-term call ups. I’d love to see him back in Charlotte next season, but I would guess it will more likely be as a player on an AHL contract (such as the ones that Jacob Micflikier and Brad Herauf had) as opposed to a two-way NHL contract that lets him play in the AHL at a reduced rate.
I really hope that guys like Bryan Rodney, Nick Dodge and Casey Borer return to the Checkers/Hurricanes next season. Rodney proved himself to be a great leader on and off the ice, and Dodge and Borer, while each struggled at times on the ice due to injuries, etc., I think they both show potential for future growth in the organization. Of the three, only Rodney saw time with the Hurricanes, but I could see Dodge and Borer being called up for short-term assignments next year.
Other AHL News:
- Still no word on the grand plan for AHL realignment that could completely reconfigure divisions and conferences next year. It will probably be a few weeks before we hear more about this.
- The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Wolves announced a formal affiliation today. The Canucks were previously tied to the Manitoba Moose, who moved to St. John’s and joined forces with the Winnipeg Jets. The Canucks/Wolves is an interesting affiliation because historically, there is a huge rivalry between the Canucks and Blackhawks, and generally speaking, Chicagoans do not like anything that has to do with the Canucks.
- In another affiliation move, the Phoenix Coyotes announced that they would affiliate with the Portland Pirates. Previously, they were with the San Antonio Rampage. This leaves the Rampage without an NHL team, and the Florida Panthers without an AHL affiliate, so unless there are more shakeups, it seems like the Panthers and San Antonio may have no other choice than to join forces.