After completing Haula deal, Hurricanes buy out Marleau contract

Hurricanes’ Waddell and Brind’Amour recap 2018-19 season and look to the future

Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell and coach Rod Brind'Amour hold their final press conference of the season
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Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell and coach Rod Brind'Amour hold their final press conference of the season

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spent much of Wednesday hammering out the final details on a trade for center Erik Haula.

On Thursday, he completed the paperwork on a buyout of Patrick Marleau’s contract and neared agreement on a new contract for goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. a restricted free agent. Odds are, he may have worked in another call to Sebastian Aho’s agent and possibly a goalie who’ll become a free agent on Monday.

There’s also the Canes’ prospects development camp this week at PNC Arena. Waddell tries to see as much of that as possible, too.

The trade for Haula wasn’t announced until after midnight, ending a long day in which Waddell said the Canes’ team doctors were poring over Haula’s medical records and reports. Haula, who played the past two years for the Vegas Golden Knights, suffered a knee injury in November that required surgery and kept him out the remainder of the regular season.

Waddell said Haula, who scored 29 goals in 2017-18, was cleared medically to begin practicing and playing again with the Golden Knights had they reached the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas didn’t make it and Haula didn’t play, but Waddell said there were no concerns about the knee or Haula’s availability next season, saying he could easily move in as the Canes’ third-line center.

“He can play special teams, power play and penalty kill, and gives you another offensive guy who can skate,” Waddell said. “We need three good lines and nothing against (Lucas) Wallmark, who did a good job for us last year, but if he ends up sliding down that’s good. We’ll have three very good offensive lines and a true centerman that we really wanted.”

The Canes traded offensive prospect Nicolas Roy to Vegas in the Haula deal and there was a tricky matter of the Golden Knights receiving a conditional fifth-round draft pick in 2020 contingent on Haula being with the Canes after next season -- the Finn will be an unrestricted free agent in July 2020 if not signed.

The Canes last week worked a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Marleau, taking on his $6.25 million salary-cap hit in exchange for a conditional 2020 first-round draft pick from the Leafs (if Toronto has a top-10 pick next season the Canes will have the Leafs’ 2021 first-rounder).

Waddell said Thursday the Canes had bought out Marleau, paying the $3 million bonus due him plus $833,333 that will be divided over the next two years. The 21-year veteran will become a UFA on July 1 and many believe he will sign with San Jose -- Marleau was with the Sharks for the first 19 years of his career -- and retire. The buyout was a condition of Marleau waiving his no-trade clause.

Boston’s Jake DeBrusk (74) and David Backes (42) defend Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho (20) during the first period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Robert Willett

Waddell has been juggling a lot of contracts and numbers and none bigger than a proposed contract for Aho. The center, coming off a career season and an NHL All-Star, figures to make more than $7 million a year at a minimum in a new pact.

Waddell said Thursday the two sides are not far apart on term and price. But again, negotiations will continue.

“There’s things going on around the league where one contract could really affect another player, so I think the agents are being very careful,” Waddell said.

Waddell again said there were no worries about another team forwarding an offer sheet for Aho, a restricted free agent, nor were the Hurricanes planning on extending any offer sheets to restricted free agents elsewhere.

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In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.