Hurricanes GM denies ownership uncertainty holding up talks with Eric Staal, Cam Ward

Tom Szczerbowski / Reuters

The forecast in Carolina appears to be cloudy as the 2015-16 regular season approaches.

The Hurricanes' two highest paid players - captain Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward - are entering the final years of their current contracts, while owner Peter Karmanos continues to entertain offers with a view to selling the team.

General manager Ron Francis, however, denies the two situations are that closely tied together, Luke DeCock of the News & Observer reports:

Talks between general manager Ron Francis and Rick Curran, the agent for both, have been amicable but without resolution.

"We're comfortable letting this go down the road a little bit," Francis said Tuesday.

While Francis denied the uncertainty surrounding the team's ownership is hampering negotiations, the fact remains the Hurricanes have done very little this summer while owner Peter Karmanos continues to seek a buyer for the franchise.

Apart from the acquisition of James Wisniewski via trade, the most noteworthy move made by the Hurricanes this summer was the buyout on Alex Semin's contract, leaving Karmanos on the hook for $2.3 million over the next five years, or for as long as he owns the team.

According to team president Don Waddell, no sale is imminent.

"We've entertained some people here, but as we sit here right now, there's nobody I can identify and say it's a strong group to buy the team or a piece of it from Mr. Karmanos," he said Tuesday.

"It's a process," Waddell continued. "Ideally, as (Karmanos) has said, he'd like to start an exit strategy but it's not a desperation sale. He doesn't need to sell it. He's 72 years old and he wants to have a succession plan."

As it stands, the club appears to have a desire to retain the services of Staal, while Ward has been subject of rampant trade rumors in recent years and appears to have a clear successor in Eddie Lack.

Carolina finished 2014-15 with 71 points, good for a 26th place finish.

Hurricanes GM denies ownership uncertainty holding up talks with Eric Staal, Cam Ward
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