It’s nearly August and Ron Francis may be through dealing. Francis, executive vice president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, has had quite the offseason. Last week, he locked up the last restricted free-agent on the team, Phil Di Giuseppe.
Last on the List
The Hurricanes announced Thursday that they had inked Di Giuseppe to a one-year, two-way contract. The press release from the team stated: “The deal will pay Di Giuseppe $725,000 on the NHL level, or $125,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level, in 2017-18.” It is very likely that Di Giuseppe had hoped for a straight NHL deal, given what has gone on around him with some of his teammates. But, he has not had a lot of experience playing at the NHL level, and Francis is likely keeping his options open for more evaluation of his play.
It is very likely that Di Giuseppe had hoped for a straight NHL deal, given what has gone on around him with some of his teammates. But he has not had a lot of experience playing at the NHL level, and Francis is likely keeping his options open for more evaluation of his play.
The press release also stated, “Di Giuseppe, 23, scored one goal and added six assists (7 points) in 36 games for the Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season. His lone goal of the season was the overtime, game-winning goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 4, at PNC Arena. The Maple, Ont., native also appeared in 40 AHL games with the Charlotte Checkers, scoring 12 goals and adding 16 assists (28 points). Selected by the Hurricanes in the second round, 38th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft, Di Giuseppe (6’0″, 200 lbs.) has totaled 24 points (8g, 16a) in 77 career NHL games. Prior to turning professional, he played three seasons at the University of Michigan, totaling 78 points (33g, 45a) in 115 career collegiate games.”
— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) May 24, 2017
Even though Di Giuseppe has a two-way contract, Brian LeBlanc at Canes Country wrote that he will be waiver-eligible for the first time in his career. This means that there will out of necessity be some thought put in before Di Giuseppe can be sent to Charlotte.
Di Giuseppe is a player that I believe can grow into a spot on the Hurricanes’ roster. He just needs more time on NHL ice. He plays a gritty game that is good to have from a forward. But, this is a year that not only the fans, but also coaches and management, are hoping the ‘Canes will break their playoff slump. Di Giuseppe has to earn a spot given the team’s situation—it won’t be handed to him.
But, Brock Got…
On June 28, the Hurricanes also re-signed forward Brock McGinn. The team extended him for two years, with $875,000 this season and $900,000 in 2018-19. Di Giuseppe might have been inclined to believe that he should have gotten a similar deal. Both players were drafted in 2012, and both have bounced around between the ‘Canes and their AHL affiliate, Charlotte Checkers. But, McGinn apparently has done more to warrant a two-year extension, with no AHL caveat.
When McGinn was extended, the team sent out this release: “McGinn, 23, completed his third full professional season in 2016-17, spending the majority of the year with the Hurricanes. The Fergus, Ont., native played in 57 NHL games with Carolina, notching seven goals and earning nine assists (16 points). McGinn (6’0″, 185 lbs.) also skated in nine games with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL), totaling eight points (5g, 3a). He was named the NHL’s third star of the week for the period ending Jan. 15, after registering seven points (4g, 3a) in three games, including his first NHL hat trick on Jan. 14. Originally drafted by Carolina in the second round (47th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, McGinn has scored 10 goals and earned 10 assists (20 points) in 78 career NHL games with the Hurricanes.”
McGinn is a developing young player as is Di Giuseppe. His progress has been a bit quicker, though, but Di Giuseppe is not far behind. Both young forwards, however, will be in the spotlight this season, as their play must continue to improve to justify their spots on the team. It is very likely that Di Giuseppe is not really saying, “But, Brock got…” He’s a professional and is going to focus on one thing: making his game better and taking advantage of every opportunity he has to show folks he belongs on NHL ice.
Francis is pretty much done with the items on his to-do list for the offseason. He’s made changes to his coaching staff, drafted a bunch of players and has all the restricted free agents signed. He even replaced long-time trainer Pete Friesen with Doug Bennett. The “i”s have dotted and the “t”s crossed and now Francis can sit back and watch how camp, prospects tournaments and exhibition season goes.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be stagnant. Francis is always looking, waiting and evaluating possibilities for his team. If he pulls the trigger on a move to improve the Hurricanes, no one will be surprised. He told me once during a walk down the hall, he approaches his GM job just like he did as a player: He wants to win. So far, he’s had what many will consider a winning offseason. Soon we’ll see if translates to wins on the ice.