Svechnikov talking to Hurricanes, GM says no doubt hell sign extension

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Andrei Svechnikov has been involved in negotiations with the Carolina Hurricanes about a contract extension. Although there is no timetable, general manager Don Waddell said he’s confident the sides will agree to one at some point.

“I think the player definitely wants to be here,” Waddell said Thursday. “His representation has been very forthright about that. We obviously want Andrei here, so we’re keeping it open minded. There’s no timetable if this happens two weeks from now or two months from now. One way or another, there’s no doubt we’ll sign Andrei at some point to some kind of extension.”

The 20-year-old forward has one more season remaining on a three-year, entry-level contract and can be a restricted free agent after next season. He said after the Hurricanes were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs that he’d be open to signing an extension this offseason and Waddell made it clear that’s his hope as well. With revenues being limited because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL salary cap is remaining flat at $81.5 million at least through the end of next season.

“Our goal is to keep Andrei here for a very long time,” Waddell said. “In saying that, with the economics the way they are right now around the League, it might make sense to do a bridge deal. You do a short-term deal and the idea would be you’d do a couple-year deal and then set yourself up for an eight-year deal, which then locks the player up for 10 years.”

The No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Svechnikov was third on Carolina with 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) in 68 regular-season games this season. He scored four goals in six postseason games to lead the Hurricanes and his seven points were second to Sebastian Aho (12 points; three goals, nine assists), but missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins with a high right-ankle sprain. Boston won the best-of-7 series in five games.

Waddell said he’s yet to have discussions with defenseman Dougie Hamilton about an extension. The situation is more complicated with Hamilton because the 27-year-old is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after next season. He plans to wait and see how things play out on the unrestricted free agent market, which opens at noon ET on Oct. 9.

“My belief is that with everything I know about Dougie, he wants to stay here and be here,” Waddell said. “It just a matter of finding what’s the value for a player. We knew what the value was maybe pre-COVID and now you’re post-COVID with the revenues and salary cap being the way they are, so that’s something we just have to figure out.”

Waddell said he acknowledged that economics will play a role in how active Carolina is in free agency and money will also be a factor in any trade the Hurricanes might make.

“We get our couple of restricted guys (forward Warren Foegele and defenseman Haydn Fleury) signed (and) we’re pretty much going to be within $3 or $4 million of the cap and we’ll see how it plays out,” Waddell said. “I can tell you as much as we all want to upgrade at certain positions, we don’t have that much space and, then to coincide with how much you’re going to want to spend, it’s something that we said all along if we can find a way to save some of that cash, my owner, Tom Dundon, would be very appreciative of that.”

Though the Hurricanes are interested in re-signing defensemen Sami Vatanen and Trevor van Riemsdyk, who are each pending unrestricted free agents, Waddell said he expects them to explore their value on the market.

“We’ve made it real clear that we’d like both guys, but we also understand that we’re under a little bit more of a scrutiny with our salary cap,” Waddell said. “So if they go out to the market, whatever the market will bear, it might be something that if they do come back to us that we can talk about.”

Forward Justin Williams is also a potential UFA, but like he did after the 2018-19 season, he’s taking some time to ponder retirement. Williams, who turns 39 on Oct. 4, sat out the first three months of this season before signing a one-year contract Jan. 7.

“As of right now, we haven’t heard either direction,” Waddell said. “I know Justin is coaching his kid’s team and real involved with his children, so I honestly don’t have an answer for you.”

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