Could the Hurricanes be a team that spends to the NHL's salary-cap maximum next season? With the league's salary cap set to drop by almost 10 percent to $64.3 million in 2013-14, the 'Canes, generally a team with a smaller payroll in years past, are moving closer toward a four-year dry spell without a postseason appearance. Next season, gone will be the former Southeast Division, populated mostly by budget-minded, nontraditional markets, and the Hurricanes will join a division with big-spending powerhouses like the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins. According to the website CapGeek.com, which compiles NHL salary data, the Hurricanes have $56.65 million committed to 17 players next season. A good portion of the cap room was eaten up when the team awarded an extension to wing Alexander Semin on March 25 worth $35 million over five years. Semin had an impressive season, finishing second on the team in points (44 in 44 games), tying for 21st in the NHL, while ranking slightly higher in terms of points per game. Semin also finished second on the team in plus/minus at plus-14. The Hurricanes were able to afford Semin, at least in the short term, because of the production they received from Jiri Tlusty. The 25-year-old bargain led the Canes in goals (23 — tied for fifth-best in the NHL) and plus/minus (plus-15) but remains under contract at $1.6 million for next season. He's eligible for restricted free agency the following season. With the NHL draft set for June 30 and the start of free agency a day later, the 'Canes have almost two months to craft their plan for filling only a few roster spots. Among the NHL's 30 teams, the 'Canes are likely to have among the fewest issues in terms of their roster going into the offseason. The highest priorities will be backup goalie, depth defense/power play specialist and third-line forwards — not exactly critical issues.
Core-focused 'Canes shaping up well for offseason
Fox Sports Carolinas | May 11