After months away but rumors an announcement might be coming soon, veteran forward Justin Williams has made up his mind regarding his NHL career this season and has returned to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Elliotte Friedman had noted a decision was imminent but Chris Johnston of Sportsnet said not to be so sure. There was apparently still some uncertainty from the Williams camp and while there was smoke, it was only that… at least according to a report Saturday night.
Just 48 hours later, it looks like Friedman was right and Johnston owes his broadcast partner from Saturday Headlines a beer.
Williams kept the door open for a return prior to the season when he wasn’t prepared to announce his retirement. Most knew that meant he was likely coming back. It was simply a matter of where and when. Late Tuesday evening, the Carolina Hurricanes announced he was back with the team he last played for. It was the place most expected to see him again.
The Fresh New Justin Williams Deal
Williams has signed only a short-term deal and will play the remainder of the 2020 season for the Canes. He will cash in a $700,000 pro-rated salary which is a far cry from the $4.5 million he made last season but it’s a testament to how badly he wanted to be back in Carolina. The team didn’t have a lot of cap room to fit Williams in and for a while, there was some speculation he might look elsewhere for employment.
The bonuses of the deal are structured as follows:
$150,000 for 10 games; $100,000 for 20; $250,000 for playoffs; $100,000 per playoff-round win, $250,000 if Carolina wins the Stanley Cup, $250,000 if he wins the Conn Smythe.
Again, the information was a bit inaccurate. “We’ve been in frequent contact with Justin over the last few months regarding his status,” said Hurricanes GM Don Waddell. “We’re thrilled that he has decided to return to playing, and we’re confident that adding him to our group will help us both on and off the ice.”
That doesn’t sound like a statement that the team was uncertain he was going to stay in Carolina if he decided to come back to the NHL.
Mr. Game 7 Is Back!
Known affectionately as Mr. Game 7, Williams posted 23 goals and 53 points in 82 games last season but is most known for his playoff heroics on the many teams he’s played with throughout his NHL career. The Hurricanes might be getting a player who is a bit rusty, but he’s certainly got something left in the tank and for the money he’s making, should be a steal.
Worst case scenario is that it takes him a few games to get up to speed. Best case is, he picks up right where he left off.
In short, how can Carolina not be over the moon right now? Williams is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and won the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Kings in 2014. In 1,242 NHL games over 18 years, he has 312 goals and 785 points.