By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
It took the Carolina Hurricanes three weeks to do what the Edmonton Oilers couldn’t get done in three years.
The Hurricanes signed centre Riley Nash.
The Hurricanes announced Monday that they have signed Nash, who is from Kamloops, to a three-year deal. Carolina acquired his rights from the Oilers on June 26, during the NHL draft in Los Angeles.
Nash’s deal, which included a signing bonus of US$262,500, is a two-way contract. If he plays in the NHL, he will be paid $550,000, $600,000 and $700,000 over the next three seasons. Should he end up with the Albany River Rats, Carolina’s AHL affiliate, his salary will be $65,000 in each of the three seasons.
The Oilers had selected Nash with the 21st pick of the 2007 draft. He never did sign with the Oilers, though, choosing instead to play three seasons for the Cornell Big Red in Ithaca, N.Y.
The Oilers acquired the 46th pick in the 2010 draft from Carolina in exchange for Nash, and promptly selected Slovakian defenceman Martin Marincin, who is expected to play this season with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. They selected him first overall in the CHL import draft on June 29.
But . . . what happened to change Nash’s mind?
“There were a lot of different factors coming into play there,” said Nash, 21, who is vacationing in Idaho. “I just didn’t want to make a decision too early and look back on it and say, ‘Was that really the right thing to do?’
“But I looked at it from every angle and covered all my bases, so I’m pretty happy and I think I made the right decision at this point in time.”
One of the key things is that he didn’t see as many good, young forwards on the Carolina depth chart.
“I just felt this is a good opportunity,” he said. “Edmonton has a lot of young players. I thought that my opportunity to play in the NHL was better with Carolina and, hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later. Only time will tell.”
Nash will go into training camp looking for a spot behind centres Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter. Also in the mix are the likes of Jeff Skinner, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft; Zac Dalpe, the 45th selection in 2008; Jon Matsumoto, a Bowling Green product who has played three full seasons in the AHL; and, Patrick Dwyer, a 27-year-old Spokane native who had 12 points in 57 games with Carolina last season.
Nash’s decision also was helped by his performance at a recent development camp in Raleigh, N.C.
“It went very well. I was very happy with the way it went,” said Nash, who checked in for it at 6-foot-1 and 191 pounds. “I felt good. I thought my size and strength were good. (Strength) was one of the areas I was looking to work on when I went to (camp), so I was happy with that.
“Overall, I had a really good feeling about it.”
Nash had 35 points, including 12 goals, in 30 games with the Big Red last season. It also was the third season in which he was able to play with his brother, Brendon, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens after his senior season.
In his three seasons there, Riley had 102 points, 37 of them goals, in 102 games.
He plans on returning to Cornell in August to visit with friends. He also will work out and skate there before heading to Raleigh. He wants to skate some more there before joining the Hurricanes’ team that will take part in the eight-team rookie tournament at Traverse City, Mich., early in September.
As for spending some of that signing bonus, well, he said he really doesn’t have any plans.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen any money yet,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m not making any plans. But I will take my parents out for a nice dinner.”