Hurricanes, Martin Nicas close to contract for 2022 NHL season


Carolina Hurricanes Center Martin Nikas (88) prepares for his shot on target at New York Rangers Philip Chettle (72) in the first period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup NHL second-round playoff series, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


The Carolina Hurricanes expect striker Martin Nicas to sign a new contract and are ready to start their pre-season training camp.

On Thursday, president and general manager Don Waddell said the Canes will have the funds needed under the NHL’s salary cap to get it done.

Necas, a former first-round pick by Carolina, is a restricted free agent and has been the source of various speculations in the league, including potential deals or even an offer sheet from another team.

But Waddell said negotiations could end with a shorter bridge agreement for Nikas. Although Waddell did not go into details, he believes the potential deal could last two years and about $3 million a season.

“We’re talking almost daily and he’s getting close,” Waddell said. “I can only speak for my part in it, but it will be done.”

According to CapFri Friendly com, which tracks NHL player salaries, Hurricanes had $1.88 million in available space Thursday.

The Kans family is scheduled to hold a salary arbitration hearing with defender Maxime Lagoy on August 9. Waddell said Thursday that he expects to reach a settlement with Lagoi, the restricted free agent, before the arbitration hearing.

Lajoie signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina last year that paid out $750,000 at the NHL level or $75,000 at the AHL level. He played five games for the Canes last season, and spent most of the year with the AHL Chicago Wolves.

Wadel said a settlement with Lajoie would allow hurricanes a buying period for decades. He did not say if the team would use the buyout deal, but it could be used to free up space on the cover.

“The buyout window is only for a player who earns more than $4 million,” Waddle said. “But if we don’t do anything, we’ll be fine. It’s going to be tight but we’ll be fine.”

Hurricanes Canucks Hockey (2) .JPG
Martin Nikas of the Carolina Hurricanes (88), of the Czech Republic, and Gisbury Kotkanyemi (82), of Finland, competed for the puck against Kyle Burroughs of the Vancouver Canucks (44) and Elias Peterson (40), of Sweden, during the first. NHL hockey game period in Vancouver, BC, Sunday, December 12, 2021 (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) Darryl Dyck AP

Sugarcane defender Jake Gardiner was placed in the Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) last season after undergoing hip and back surgery. Gardiner, who received medical clearance to return to hockey this season, has one year left on his contract with a net worth of $4.05 million.

The Canes, like many teams, refitted part of their roster in the off-season, losing forwards Vincent Trochek and Nino Needretter, and defender Tony DiAngelo. They were traded for defender Brent Burns, former Norris Cup winner with San Jose, and striker Max Pasuritti, and they signed striker Ondrej Casey on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

About signing Kase, Waddell said: “He’s had a few injuries, but if you look at his points per minute when he played, that’s pretty good. His analyzes are solid in every bit of the ice. We just think it’s a very low stakes with a lot of potential upside.”

Waddell said next season’s roster was pretty much ready, though he wouldn’t rule out any further moves.

“We always talk,” Waddell said. “We talk to some teams. You always want to be in the conversation. The last thing I want is for someone to be traded where I said, ‘Uh, I wish I could take another shot at him or I knew he was in the market. You try to stay in touch.’”

Waddell meets the Centennial Authority

Waddell attended the Centennial Authority Board of Directors meeting Thursday at the PNC Arena. The naming rights agreement for the plaza expires this month, Waddell said, “We are in some intense negotiations with several companies at the moment.”

Waddell said BNC was one of the companies involved but did not name any other companies.

Waddell also said he has continued his lobbying efforts to legalize online sports gambling in North Carolina. The gambling bill failed in the last legislature sessions of the General Assembly, while proposed renovation plans for the PNC Arena included talk of a sportsbook opening in the arena.

“I’ve learned a lot about politics in the past six months,” Waddell said. “Our goal is to try to continue to explain why this not only benefits the region, but the whole country and the economic impact that can have on the whole country.”

Waddell made some public comments to the authority Thursday about hurricanes and the 2022-23 season. He referred to the NHL’s salary cap, saying, “If there’s no cap, we’ll keep spending. Our owner (Tom Dundon) is very competitive and wants to win.”

This story was originally published August 4, 2022 5:14 pm.

In his more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the rhythms of North Carolina State, University of North Carolina, Duke and East Carolina, and is now in his eleventh season at the Carolina Hurricanes. Alexander, who has won numerous state and national writing awards, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N&O’s coverage of the 2006 Stanley Cup in Canes.

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