Considering the circumstances of the earlier-than-hoped-for offseason, it's nice to have some good things to talk about back here in the hockey cave. I'm talking about some of the signings the Hurricanes have made so far, inking some of our recent draft picks to contracts and getting them to Albany as a first step towards building for the future. It's something we tried (and failed) to get done with Jack Johnson, but (especially in the new NHL) it's absolutely vital to keep the team's youth movement active and growing -- those rookie and RFA contracts are the lifeblood of a team in today's salary cap environment.
Notre Dame defenseman Noah Babin
was the first to sign, when his Fighting Irish career was over in late March. 22 years old (still young for a defenseman) we've got him inked for 2 years, and secured our RFA rights to him after that. With Johnson a casualty in our team's efforts to make another playoff run this year, our contributions to the Albany defensive corps was pretty thin -- hopefully Babin can continue to develop.
The same goes for two recent signings, and to me they are certainly much flashier as they both have some serious offensive upside. Nicolas Blanchard
and Bobby Hughes
were signed within a week of each other in April, and really make me feel pretty good about the state of our young crop of forwards in Albany. Hughes made quite a splash at training camp last fall, and both are signed for 3 year deals.
Side note: I'm not a fan of one of the changes to the "new" Hurricanes NHL site, particularly in the way it lists the prospects in the system. It used to be easy as pie to tell which player was in which system, as it was broken down by "Albany River Rats", "Florida Everblades", "Canadian Juniors", "European Juniors", and "Collegiate Hockey" sections. But apparently no more, just one big mash of "Forwards" and another big mash of "Defensemen" and so on.
And don't get me started about the limitations of the River Rats
roster page -- since we share the team with Colorado around half of the players aren't part of the Hurricanes system yet it's not apparent on first glance which players belong to which team -- even upon further glance of clicking a player to see their listing isn't necessarily going to show you which team they belong to -- for example see Casey Borer
's player profile there. Not much to see.
But I digress. It's an exciting start to the offseason to see some of these young guys getting signed and I hope it's the start of a nice long summer of signing for the Carolina Hurricanes, of players both young, old (Whitney, Walker) and in-between (Ward). And don't get me started about the draft... such a bumper crop that it looks like the 11th pick should still get us a good look at a veritable cornucopia of good players. But that's a whole 'nother blog post for a whole 'nother day.