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Scott Darling agrees to four-year contract with Hurricanes

Goaltender, who could have become free agent, was acquired in trade from Blackhawks

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Goaltender Scott Darling on Friday agreed to a four-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

It is worth $16.6 million, an average annual value of $4.15 million. Darling was acquired by Carolina on April 28 in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. "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."

Carolina traded a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, which they acquired from the Ottawa Senators, to acquire Darling. The Hurricanes had 11 picks in the draft.

"This is a bit of a gamble, but one we believed was worth taking," Francis told The News & Observer on April 28. "This is why we accumulated these picks, and we still have 10 left. It was worth the risk."

Darling, 28, was 18-5-5 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 32 games (27 starts) this season as the backup to Corey Crawford. He's 39-17-9 with a 2.37 GAA, .923 save percentage and four shutouts in 75 NHL games (64 starts), all with Chicago.

Darling played in five Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2015, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.

"Obviously he's a big guy (6-foot-6, 232 pounds) and he's extremely competitive, which you can tell if you watch him play," Francis told the newspaper. "He was more than serviceable in his role in Chicago. He has been hoping to get the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie and his numbers indicate he's capable of being a No. 1 goalie. ... [He was] genuinely excited about the opportunity and the fact we stepped up and showed interest in trading for him."

Cam Ward and Eddie Lack were the primary goalies for the Hurricanes this season, when they tied for 26th in the NHL with a .901 save percentage.

Ward, 33, started 61 games and went 26-22-12 with a 2.69 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts. He has spent his entire 12-year NHL career with the Hurricanes and signed a two-year contract prior to this season.

Lack, 29, played 20 games (18 starts) and went 8-7-3 with a 2.64 goals-against average, .902 save percentage and one shutout. He was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks at the 2015 NHL Draft.

The Hurricanes must expose one goalie in the NHL Expansion Draft, with the list due June 17. The selections by the Vegas Golden Knights will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 21.

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