Justin Faulk signs 6-year, $29 million extension with Carolina Hurricanes

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 24, 2014 

— Justin Faulk took some good-natured chirping from his Carolina Hurricanes teammates after practice Monday.

The Canes announced the defenseman had signed a six-year extension worth $29 million. Faulk will receive $2.5 million in 2014-15, $3.5 million in 2015-16, $5.5 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and $6 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20, for an annual salary-cap figure of $4.833 million.

Not bad at age 22.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Faulk said. “I’m happy to be here another six years after this year. I think we have a pretty good group of guys, a good core, to build off of. If you look at our team, it’s a good team to be a part of, and I think it will keep getting better from here.”

Faulk, a second-round draft pick by the Canes in 2010, won an NCAA championship as a freshman at Minnesota-Duluth in 2011. He was named to the NHL’s all-rookie team in 2011-12 and was a member of the U.S. Olympic team that competed in the recent Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

One thing that’s still missing: competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canes likely will be left out again this season and have not reached the playoffs since 2009.

“I wish I could have done it a couple of years ago when I came into the league,” Faulk said. “That’s our main goal. It’s something you want to be a part of. It’s no fun going home at the end of a season and watching it on TV.”

Faulk is in his third season with the Hurricanes, has three goals and 21 assists in 65 games, and has averaged 23 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time per game. Teaming with Andrej Sekera most of the season, he has been a part of the Canes’ top defensive pairing and is often matched up against the opponents’ top lines.

“He’s young, but he’s gaining experience quickly with the games he’s getting in now and the minutes he’s playing,” Canes coach Kirk Muller said. “His maturity level has given him an opportunity to grow. He’s getting better and better and more confident as a young defenseman.”

Faulk was to be a restricted free agent after the season, but Canes general manager Jim Rutherford didn’t want to wait to negotiate a new contract.

“We felt it was important to get him re-signed and get it out of the way before July 1,” Rutherford said Monday. “He could have been targeted with an offer sheet (by another team), and we did not want to deal with that. Justin is a very good player at a young age with a lot of good years ahead of him.”

Defensemen Ron Hainsey and Mike Komisarek, forwards Radek Dvorak and Manny Malhotra and goalie Justin Peters will be unrestricted free agents after the season. Forwards Nathan Gerbe, Jiri Tlusty, Drayson Bowman and Andrei Loktionov will be restricted free agents, as will defenseman Brett Bellemore.

Rutherford said decisions on those players probably will wait until after the season. Free agency begins July 1.

Note: The Staal brothers – Eric, Jordan, Jared and Marc – have agreed to sponsor the PGA Tour Canada’s Thunder Bay Golf Classic in their hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

It was announced Monday that the Staal Family Foundation had signed a three-year agreement to be the title sponsor of the event. The tournament, played in July at Whitewater Golf Club, will be called the Staal Foundation Open presented by TbayTel.

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