Even though the 2011-12 season may not start on time, Jim Rutherford and the Hurricanes front office have remained busy at work with their latest move being giving Patrick Dwyer a two-year contract extension worth a total of $1.8 mil. Dwyer would be entering the final year of his current contract this year, so the Hurricanes have him locked up until 2015 with this new deal. The contract will pay Dwyer $900,000 per year, which is a pretty decent raise compared to the $625,000 that he was making the year before.
This is a relatively low-key signing for the Hurricanes, especially compared to the Skinner extension, but it's a very fair and well-deserved extension for Dwyer who I believe is one of the most under-appreciated players on the team. Dwyer has never been a player who excited people and the 8 goals he scored in 2010-11 may end up being his career high, but he excels at the defensive side of the game and that's what makes him an important player to Carolina. Along with Brandon Sutter and Andreas Nodl, Dwyer was part of the team's shutdown line last season and were regularly matched up against opposing team's top lines. They were also given the burden of starting nearly 70% of their even strength shifts in the defensive zone.
Dwyer's limited offensive skills and tough assignments means that he isn't going to be the type of player who drives the play forward a lot but when it came to limiting opportunities at the other end, Dwyer was one of the best on the team. He was on ice for the fewest amount of chances against at even strength among forwards and only Andreas Nodl was on-ice for fewer goals per 60 minutes at even strength than him. Factor in his ability to draw penalties and the fact that he is one of the team's better penalty killing forwards and the Canes have themselves a very useful player locked up for two more years.
As for the money, $900k is the going rate for most bottom-six player/penalty kill specialists so I don't have any complaints on that front. Nate Thompson, Jay Beagle, Tom Wandell and Shawn Matthias have similar cap hits and all of them play similar roles to Dwyer on their respecitve teams. Sure, you could probably find similar players to Dwyer for the league minimum but $900k isn't going to put the Hurricanes in cap trouble (or at least it shouldn't but I'm not going to predict what the new CBA will look like) and the deal is easy to move if Dwyer falls out of Carolina's plans in the future. Dwyer was also making around the league minimum for the previous five years and deserved a raise after last season, in my opinion.
Dwyer's value shouldn't be judged by goals and points but I think we will see a better offensive output from him next season because he was the victim of some terrible shooting luck last season. His personal shooting percentage was only 4.2% and the Hurricanes shot at only 4.87% at even strength when he was on the ice. Both of those numbers should improve eventually because I have a hard time believing that Dwyer is going to convert on less than 5% of his shots and less than 7% of his scoring chances next season. Yes, Dwyer has a limited offensive skillset but half of the shots he took were registered as scoring chances by location and he played a lot of minutes to have only five goals and 12 points last season. I'm not saying that he's going to breakout offensively, but he should have a better looking scoring line than last season with some better shooting luck.
The only question I have regarding Dwyer and his future with the team is where he is going to play next season. He was a third liner for all of last season but with Brandon Sutter not on the team anymore and the Canes not having a "shutdown center" right now, I'm not sure how the team plans to use him and Nodl next season. Do they stay as third liners while Jeremy Welsh or Zac Dalpe takes over for Sutter, or do they get bumped to the fourth line with Tim Brent to play a more defensive role? Ultimately, I would love to see Carolina role four lines with Nodl, Brent & Dwyer being the fourth line that is used in strictly defensive situations but that could change depending on what happens over the next few months.
Regardless of what happens, this is a reasonable extension for Dwyer.