Per the Carolina Hurricanes website, the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Scott Darling, who was recently acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third round pick. Darling inked a four-year, $16.6MM deal which averages out to about $4.15MM per the release. General manager Ron Francis was quoted as saying:
“Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent. But he believes in what we are trying to do here and we are thrilled that he is committing to the Hurricanes and to Raleigh.”
The deal gives Carolina a boost between the pipes while providing Darling the starting job he coveted. In Chicago, Darling proved more than a serviceable backup and even proved steady during the Blackhawks’ 2015 Stanley Cup run when called on.
Darling’s departure from Chicago was hardly shocking, as the Hawks were strapped by the Cap and Corey Crawford was the number one goalie with a hefty contract that would be more challenging to move. Darling, though he expressed a desire to stay in the Windy City, now gets a chance to prove what he can do. In a down season for the Hawks defensively, Darling’s numbers were sparkling, posting a .924 save percentage and 28 wins. His quality save percentage clocked in at .630 and he appeared in a career high 32 games.
NBC Sports James O’Brien writes that Chicago could have boosted Darling’s standing in terms of ability. While that remains to be seen, the Hawks were not nearly as strong as defensively as in years past. Now, Darling goes to a team with a young defensive corps that is on the rise and boasts depth from years of smart drafting. Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, and Noah Hanifin are all under 25, and prime to be a core that can make the Hurricanes a force for years to come. Add in a goaltender of Darling’s caliber, and now Carolina looks extremely strong in their own zone.
Though they still owe Eddie Lack and Cam Ward $2.75MM and $3.3MM respectively for another season, the Hurricanes have the cap room to absorb three goalies making just over $10MM combined. Additionally, Lack and Ward’s deal run out after the 2017-18 season. If anything, it’s just another element of depth for the ’Canes.