While it would be hard to imagine Paul Maurice not getting a new contract and continuing to coach the Carolina Hurricanes, general manager Jim Rutherford said today that it may be a week to 10 days before a final decision and an announcement is made.
Rutherford said he would first conduct exit interviews with the players and coaches, then meet with team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. to discuss the plans for next season and beyond.
"Paul and the whole coaching staff did a very good job in helping us recover from an average start to having a very good second half to getting to the (Eastern) conference finals," Rutherford said. "Paul did an extremely good job, did everything he was asked to do."
Maurice was named coach Dec. 3 after Peter Laviolette was fired. The Canes reached the playoffs for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, and the franchise finished in the black financially after reaching the conference finals.
"We had a lot of good things happen at a time when we needed them to -- returning to the playoffs for the first time in a while, and in some tough economic times," Rutherford said. "I'm really proud of this team, even though it was a disappointing way to end the season, and thankful for the way our fans responded. They're probably the classiest fans in the league."
The Canes have some tough decisions to make in resigning their restricted and unrestricted free agents. Rutherford said a budget for next year would have to be set before beginning that process -- Carolina had a budget of $49 million this season, Rutherford said.
"I think the nucleus and the core that we have can win the Cup again," he said. "It's a matter of making a healthy run. We just need to regroup and put together a good team for next year."
Rutherford said a draft priority would be finding a player or players with size, whether on defense or at forward. He said the Canes would have the 27th pick with the draft order reworked.
"I think adding a little size would be good for us," he said. "But you never know how the draft will work out. You have to take the best player available."
Rutherford said a few days ago that "something extraordinary would have to come up for this coaching staff not to return."