Many in the NHL view Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin as a young emerging star in the league.
Now, he’ll be paid like one.
The Hurricanes announced Wednesday that Slavin has been signed to a seven-year contract extension that begins in the 2018-19 season. He will be paid $5.3 million per season, a long-term commitment that provides Slavin and his wife, Kylie, financial security and is evidence of the confidence Carolina general manager Ron Francis has in him as one of the team’s cornerstone players.
“We think Jaccob is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League,” Francis said Wednesday. “We think he has tremendous upside. In addition to that, we think he’s part of one of the best young defense corps in the game, if not the best.
“We felt comfortable with Jaccob and the kind of person he is that this contract and the term is not going to change who he is or how hard he worked or how hard he played. … In this case we’re comfortable doing seven years.”
A lot has happened to Slavin, 23, in a short period of time – all of it good.
A fourth-round draft pick by Carolina in 2012, the 120th overall choice, Slavin spent two years at Colorado College before turning pro. He quickly made the move from the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes’ American Hockey League team, to the Carolina lineup and the Erie, Colo., native has played 145 games for the Hurricanes the past two seasons.
Now, he has a $37.1 million contract extension.
“It’s definitely been a fun journey and experience so far,” Slavin said.
This past season, Slavin set career highs in points (34), goals (5) and assists (29). He was second in the NHL in takeaways and finished with a plus-23 ranking, tying defenseman Brett Pesce for the team high in plus/minus.
Slavin got two fifth-place votes for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s best defenseman. That was a sign of respect for a player on a team that again did not make the Stanley Cup playoffs, a defenseman who doesn’t get the sweeping exposure given players in larger markets.
“I gladly take them,” Slavin said of the Norris Trophy votes. “League-wide notice of me doesn’t really matter. I’m just going to continue to play my game and continue to try to help the team win as best as I can.”
Slavin will be in the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract in 2017-18. So will Pesce and Noah Hanifin, a former first-round pick who has played the past two seasons for Carolina after leaving Boston College as a 18-year-old.
Francis didn’t say if Pesce and Hanifin would be offered or sign similar extensions this summer, saying only that financial discussions with some players are ongoing. “We’ll see how those proceed over the upcoming months,” he said.
Slavin and Pesce were a defensive pairing much of last season, and Slavin later was paired with Justin Faulk after veteran Ron Hainsey was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the NHL trade deadline. Slavin, who plays with a confident calmness to his game, was one team’s most effective penalty killers and also has shown off a few sweet shootout moves.
A man of devout faith, Slavin has said he is following God’s plan and is not defined as a person by his hockey success. He said it again Wednesday in a news conference at PNC Arena.
“I’m definitely going to give all the glory to God, putting me where I am now and just the position that I’m in,” he said. “He gets all the glory, but we’re looking forward to what’s next.”