Hurricanes sign Darling to 4-year, $16.6-million contract

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes traded for their goalie of the future last week. They signed him Friday.

The club announced a four-year, $16.6-million contract with Scott Darling, who takes over the No. 1 goaltender duties from incumbent Cam Ward.

Darling, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round draft pick in 2017 (originally belonging to the Ottawa Senators), had a career season in 2016-17. He started 27 games as Corey Crawford's backup, and won 18 games thanks to an impressive .924 save percentage, which ranked fourth in the NHL.

The 28-year-old was set for unrestricted free agency on July 1, but committed to Carolina, choosing not to test the market.

"Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent," general manager Ron Francis said. "But he believes in what we are trying to do here and we are thrilled that he is committing to the Hurricanes and to Raleigh."

The Hurricanes now have three goaltenders under contract for next season, which means one of Ward or Eddie Lack will have to go.

Goalie Cap Hit Age Signed Through
Darling $4.15M 28 2020-21
Ward $3.3M 33 2017-18
Lack $2.75M 29 2017-18

Darling was drafted 153rd overall by the Coyotes in 2007 and took a long, winding path to the NHL, playing college hockey at Maine, before stints in the Southern Professional Hockey League, the ECHL, and the AHL. He finally got his shot in Chicago in 2014-15, and has been in the NHL since.

The Hurricanes ranked 26th in the NHL this past season with a disappointing .901 save percentage. With better goaltending, they likely challenge for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Darling owns only 64 NHL starts to his name, but Ward is no longer a No. 1 option, as his .905 and .909 save percentages over the past two seasons suggest.

Ward's been the man in the crease in Carolina for a long, long time, and he'll forever be remembered as the man who backstopped the Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup, but it was time for a change.

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Hurricanes sign Darling to 4-year, $16.6-million contract
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