The summer of low-key free agent signings continues for the Hurricanes as they have inked right winger Tim Wallace to a two-way deal. The details of the contract have not been released yet, but I would assume that it’s less than $1 mil. given that Wallace is in his late-20′s and played his first “full” NHL season only last year. He started last season with the New York Islanders and was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning in February, where he tallied eight of his nine total points. Wallace also played 24 games last season with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport where he scored 9 goals and 20 points.
Wallace is a veteran of the AHL as he has spent the majority of his professional career in the minors and he has been a very good player at that level, too. At the NHL, however, Wallace has mainly been used as a fourth-liner. He is depended on to play about less than 10 minutes a night, doesn’t kill penalties or contribute on the powerplay and doesn’t offer much else other than providing a big body to play a physical role. That being said, his underlying numbers from last season were not horrible. Wallace managed to not get killed territorially despite starting almost 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone, so that’s something.
So what can Tim Wallace do for the Hurricanes? Hopefully the same thing that he did for the Lightning last season. Take defensive zone draws, be able to somewhat drive the play and give the team at least 10 points. That’s about what you should expect from a fourth-liner and it’s what Wallace brings to the table and it’s also nice that he has a physical edge, too. Wallace is a similar player to Anthony Stewart in the sense that he is a fourth liner and doesn’t have a ton of upside but he can give you at least 6-10 minutes of decent player per night. They also had a lot of good fortune last season as both players had very high shooting percentages and their respective teams had unsustainable high on-ice shooting percentages, too. The Lightning’s 16.4% on-ice shooting percentage is something that’s probably going to come down dramatically next season if Wallace makes the Hurricanes next season.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Wallace started next season in the AHL and spent most of his time there because he’s a proven AHL veteran and the Hurricanes don’t have many open roster spots next season. They do need a fourth line winger but that role is likely going to be assumed by Andreas Nodl or Patrick Dwyer with third line possibly having a more offensive role than in years past. That could leave both Wallace and Stewart in the lurch next season because I would expect Dwyer or Nodl to have spots on the team over them next season but anything is possible. I’m not entirely sure how Kirk Muller will roll his lines next year, so it’s possible that Wallace will fit into the team’s plans next season as a fourth liner so we’ll see how things work out.
Wallace’s ability to handle more defensive assignments could give him the edge over Stewart for next season but he also has a two-way deal, whereas Stewart has to be paid $1 mil. even if he is in the AHL next season. If both are equally good and the final roster cuts come down to between the two of them, I would expect Stewart to stay for that reason unless the team decides that they don’t want to keep him anymore. Wallace has a good track record in the minors so he should be a solid contributor in Charlotte if he doesn’t make the Canes out of camp. The Checkers had some forward depth issues last season, so adding an experienced player to help out there is a good move.