April 2, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Joni Pitkanen (25) lays on the ice after getting hurt during the 2nd period against the Washington Capitals at the PNC center. The Capitals defeated the Hurricanes 5-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricanes Sign Justin Faulk To Six-Year Contract Extension

Justin Faulk will remain a Carolina Hurricane for the foreseeable future.

Feb 7, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Justin Faulk (27) blocks a shot in front of the Florida Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann (14) at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Faulk, who just turned 22 on Thursday, signed a six-year, $29 million contract extension on Thursday, keeping him in Raleigh through the 2019-20 season and burning the rest of his restricted free agency.

TSN hockey analyst Aaron Ward, a former Carolina defenceman himself, was among the first to Tweet news of the extension.

Faulk, who was set to become a restricted free agent in July, has three goals and 21 assists for a career-high 24 points in 65 games with the Hurricanes this season.

He also played for the Americans at the Sochi Olympics, though he failed to register a point in two games.

According to CapGeek, Faulk’s cap hit of approximately $4.9 million annually puts him in company with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler (AAV $5 million), Detroit Red Wings stalwart Niklas Kronwall (AAV $4.75 million), and young Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh (AAV $4.7 million), all of whom signed their contract extensions within the last two seasons.

While the number may seem high now, it could be a heck of a deal for the Hurricanes as the contract progresses, and there is certainly past precedent for this kind of contract working out long-term.

In 2008, the Los Angeles Kings signed a 23-year-old Dustin Brown to a six-year, $19.05 million contract extension. He’s looked like a good investment for most of the contract, and Los Angeles rewarded its captain with an eight-year, $47 million contract extension set to kick in this July. The deal also allowed the Kings to have more flexibility to get key cogs like Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Jonathan Quick under contract for the long haul.

The Hurricanes could be looking at something similar with Faulk, especially if the salary cap continues to increase. They don’t have many more young assets to lock up, as Jeff Skinner is currently in the first year of a six-year deal worth $34.35 million, and Jordan Staal is in the early years of a 10-year contract. However, following the 2016-17 season, captain Eric Staal‘s contract will expire, as will prospect Elias Lindholm‘s entry-level deal, along with the deals of goaltenders Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, if both are still in Hurricane colours by then.

For a more current view, Faulk’s contract might mean the end of Joni Pitkanen‘s time as a Hurricane. Pitkanen is in the final year of a contract with an annual cap hit of $4.95 million, though injuries have limited him to 52 games in the last three seasons, missing the entire 2013-14 season with a broken heel suffered nearly a year ago.

With this deal, it looks like the Hurricanes will build around Faulk on the back end going forward, which isn’t a bad idea at all.

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Justin Faulk NHL

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