With Curtis McElhinney playing well, the Carolina Hurricanes have made a decision on which of their three goaltenders to send to the minor leagues. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic is reporting that Scott Darling will be placed on waivers today. The goaltender is not at Hurricanes practice today, and will likely be sent to the minor leagues should he clear. The team has also placed Valentin Zykov on waivers, after his conditioning loan ended this week.
Darling, 29, is almost certain to clear given his hefty contract. The former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender signed a four-year, $16.6MM contract with the Hurricanes in 2017, but has basically done nothing to deserve NHL playing time since. In 50 games since inking his big deal, Darling has an .889 save percentage and 3.17 goals against average. His 15-25-8 record is incredibly poor given the team’s overall 48-44-14 mark over the same time frame. Given the fact that McElhinney has taken the net and run with it since being claimed from the Toronto Maple Leafs before the season began, there was little reason to keep Darling on the NHL roster any longer.
If he does clear and reports to the minor leagues, the Hurricanes will save $1.025MM in cap space (prorated) while Darling remains in the AHL, though the team is still on the hook for his entire salary. For a club like Carolina, the cap space doesn’t make much of a difference, meaning this was purely a hockey move to get the best 23-man roster. Darling could potentially find his footing in the minor leagues, or the Hurricanes could try to trade him in order for him to get a fresh start.
Zykov on the other hand is a very interesting waiver addition. The 23-year old forward has just three points in 13 games this season for Carolina, but was a 33-goal man in the AHL just a season ago and was originally selected 37th overall by the Los Angeles Kings. There’s reason to believe that he could still be of use to an NHL club, but his overall body of work with Carolina hasn’t been enough to earn him a full-time role just yet. If someone does take a chance on the young forward, they’d need to keep him and his $675K cap hit in the NHL.