The Carolina Hurricanes boast one of the most talented, young defensive corps in the National Hockey League, and on Wednesday, they secured a centerpiece of that group to a long-term contract extension.
In an already banner offseason, the Canes agreed to terms with defenseman Jaccob Slavin on a seven-year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $5.3 million.
"We think Jaccob is one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League. We think he has tremendous upside in addition to that," said Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis. "He's also a man of extreme character. Both he and his wife, Kylie, do an awful lot in the community already at their young age, and I know that will continue. We are thrilled to have him as part of our organization moving forward."
"It's definitely been a really fun journey and experience so far," Slavin said. "There's eight more years here, and we're definitely looking forward to that."
Video: Jaccob Slavin signs extension with Canes
After making his NHL debut in the 2015-16 season, Slavin completed his first full NHL campaign in 2016-17 and was one of six Hurricanes to play in all 82 games. He was a workhorse, leading the team in time on ice per game (23:26) and ranking tied for first in plus/minus with a plus-23, a mark that's the fourth-best in franchise history and even more impressive considering the team's minus-21 goal differential. Slavin was a key cog in what was one of the top penalty killing units in the league with a team-high 3:07 shorthanded time on ice per game average and a career-high (and league-best among defensemen) four shorthanded points.
Slavin also posted career highs in points (34), goals (5) and assists (29) and paced the team in blocked shots (161) and takeaways (83).
Needless to say, at just 23 years of age, Slavin is an extremely valuable piece of the Canes' blue line.
And, he's one of the league's best kept secrets, for now. Slavin received two fifth-place Norris Trophy votes this year - a fact that didn't surface in contract negotiations, Francis joked - and All-Star recognition, among other league-wide praises, is surely to follow.
"When you look at the type of player and person he is, it's somebody we want in our organization," Francis said.
Away from the rink, Slavin and his wife, Kylie, call Raleigh home. They've entrenched themselves in the community in the short time they've been here and are poised to be actively involved for years to come.
"We love it here, and we definitely made it a home ever since we first got out here," Slavin said. "The people we've met through the church and all the friends we've made, we have family out here now and it's been awesome."
"We like him as a player. We like him as a person," Francis said. "We appreciate the fact that he and his wife believe in Raleigh and this market and the fact that they believe in what we're building and want to be a part of it."
This complete package made the decision to approach a long-term contract rather than a shorter bridge deal an easy one for Francis and his staff.
"We felt comfortable with Jaccob and the type of person he is that this contract and the term was not going to change who he is, how hard he works or how he plays," Francis said.
In securing him for the next eight seasons, seven beyond the expiration of his entry-level contract in 2018, the Hurricanes tab Jaccob Slavin the player - a budding defensive hidden gem - and Jaccob Slavin the person - a devoted man of faith - as an integral element in their young, gifted core.
"Jaccob is part of that young leadership group we have in the room. As he said and we've come to know over the years, his character is outstanding," Francis said. "He's got high morals. He's not going to change or be drawn into anything he doesn't want to be a part of. We think he's on very solid ground in that regard. He will be a leader in that locker room with our young players moving forward, no question."
"Letter or no letter, it doesn't matter. I'm going to be who I am and be the person God created me to be leadership-wise on and off the ice," Slavin said. "I don't think that's going to change the way I play or change the way I am in the locker room or the presence that I carry. I want to contribute as a leader and be a leader on this team for a long time."