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$18.75-million and while turning 3

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  • $18.75-million and while turning 3

    The Carolina Hurricanes missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, prompting an organizational re-shuffling that resulted in Ron Francis being named General Manager. Replica Shoes 2019 . Off-Season Game Plan looks at Francis challenge: finding a way to take this top-heavy team and make it a playoff contender. The second order of business for Francis figures to be finding a replacement for head coach Kirk Muller, who was fired in Francis first order of business as the new GM. All of the Canes problems cant be laid at Mullers doorstep, but its low risk to try a new approach when the past two seasons have yielded a .481 points percentage (125 points in 130 games). Francis former teammates Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson have both been rumoured as possible fits for the job. In addition to someone new calling the shots behind the bench, Francis has some complicated personnel decisions. The Staal brothers, Alexander Semin and Cam Ward each come with a cap hit of at least $6-million and that kind of ticket can always get moved out if it doesnt come with results. Its one thing to pay your marquee No. 1 centre more than $8-million if youre making the playoffs regularly, but when youve been on the outside for five straight seasons, its not inconceivable to consider trying something different. Same goes for paying a goaltender more than $6-million per season; only it gets more challenging to find takers when that goalie has struggled to stay healthy and played poorly over the past couple years. At one time -- much closer to 2006 -- it would have seemed sacreligious to consider trading Eric Staal or Cam Ward, but those are some possibilities that Francis may have to consider as he takes over the reigns of a budget-conscious team. To be fair, its not impossible for the Hurricanes to turn what they have into a competitive team. In addition to their high-priced forwards, the next generation is represented by Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm and their defence at least has a legitimate first pairing in Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk. Its going further down the depth chart that causes more concern, as the Canes have been attempting to get by with bargains in those final roster spots. "I dont know if youre ever ready for this job," Francis told the Raleigh News & Observer after taking over from Jim Rutherford. "One thing Ive learned is there are no easy decisions. There are a lot of tough decisions." He may not be ready for it, but it sounds like Francis has some idea what hes getting himself into. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- Corsi, adjusted for zone starts, quality of competition and quality of teammates, hits, blocked shots, penalty differential and faceoffs. Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be around 70, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013-2014 regular season ratings at 87.12. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. CF% = Corsi percentage (ie. percentage of 5-on-5 shot attempts), via www.extraskater.com. GM/COACHRon Francis/Vacant Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Cap Hit Jeff Skinner 74.48 71 33 21 54 51.2% $5.725M Eric Staal 73.38 79 21 40 61 52.4% $8.25M Alexander Semin 73.10 65 22 20 42 55.2% $7.0M Jordan Staal 68.53 82 15 25 40 54.0% $6.0M Patrick Dwyer 62.71 75 8 14 22 48.4% $900K Riley Nash 61.45 73 10 14 24 50.6% $575K Elias Lindholm 61.08 58 9 12 21 49.6% $925K Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS CF% Class 13-14 Cap Hit Nathan Gerbe 66.34 81 16 15 31 51.8% RFA $550K Jiri Tlusty 66.09 68 16 14 30 51.2% RFA $1.6M Andrei Loktionov 60.82 68 7 15 22 55.1% RFA $725K Manny Malhotra 60.35 69 7 6 13 41.4% UFA $600K Drayson Bowman 58.61 70 4 8 12 45.5% RFA $600K Radek Dvorak 57.67 60 4 5 9 42.7% UFA $600K 21-year-old Jeff Skinner has had some ups and downs already in his career, but after scoring a career-high 33 goals last season, he now has 97 goals in 259 games through his first four years. Since 2000, the players to have more than 97 goals through their age 21 season are Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin. He could be a premier offensive threat, though if thats the case, it probably makes sense to give him more ice time -- he played more, per game, in each of the previous two seasons. For the first time since his rookie season, Eric Staal finished a full season with fewer than 70 points and, coming off a knee injury suffered at the World Championships, it contrasted with a percentage-driven 2012-2013 season during which he put up 53 points in 48 games. There were rumblings during the year that Staal (or Skinner) might be available and that isnt necessarily a crazy idea. The cap hit for the two seasons remaining on his deal is $8.25-million, but the actual cost is $18.75-million and while turning 30 isnt a hockey death sentence, Staal will turn 30 in October and hes put on a lot of miles -- since coming into the league, in 2003-2004, he ranks fourth in games played with 769. This doesnt mean shipping Staal out at the first possible moment, and he does have a no-trade clause, but if a contender will pay a premium of young players, prospects and picks to land a big scoring centre like Staal, then the Hurricanes may want to at least consider that option now while he has value. While his scoring numbers declined last season, Alexander Semin was a victim of percentage regression more than anything. He had more than three shots on goal per game for the fifth time in the past six seasons and, over the past four seasons, has been one of the best at generating shot attempts while hes on the ice. Its entirely fair to wonder about the value of paying a $7-million cap hit for the next four seasons, until hes 34 but, at the moment, Semin is still a dangerous offensive winger. When the Hurricanes brought Jordan Staal in from Pittsburgh, the idea was that Staal would be able to play in a more offensive role, and it hasnt really worked out that way. He gets significant ice time against quality opponents, but Staal hasnt been blessed with great finishers on his lines in Carolina (Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer were his most common linemates last season) so, even with strong possession stats, his scoring rates have actually decreased.

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