Justin Williams put his NHL career on hold in September when he announced he was stepping away from the Carolina Hurricanes. Halfway through the 2019-20 season, the team is reportedly making one last offer for him to play this year.
On Monday, John Shannon reported that Carolina made the former Hurricanes captain a final offer to return for the second half of the season. While he did not report how likely Williams might be to return to the NHL, Shannon also wrote that the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning might be interested in Williams' services if he does not sign with Carolina.
The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun added on Tuesday that the Hurricanes' work to re-acquire Williams is complicated by the 35-and-older contract rules and their own salary cap situation.According to CapFriendly, Carolina currently has roughly $3.1 million in salary cap space — and to sign Williams to a multi-year contract now means they could be left on the hook for his cap hit should he choose to retire early. LeBrun also reported that while Williams' priority remains staying in Carolina, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a pitch to him this week, too.
Williams was spotted at the Hurricanes' game against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday sitting with owner Tom Dundon.
Is Justin Williams watching the Canes game with Tom Dundon....in a bath robe pic.twitter.com/p5SIOxkMIE— juno (@junotheleafs) January 8, 2020
The 38-year-old forward has played 18 seasons in the NHL and played two separate stints with Carolina — one from 2003-09, during which he played a significant role in the Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup championship victory. He returned to the organization in 2017 and was named the team's captain on Sept. 13, 2018. Williams led Carolina to the postseason for the first time in 10 years last season before his contract expired, leaving his future with the team in doubt.
"This is the first time in my life that I've felt unsure of my aspirations with regards to hockey," Williams said before training camp in September via a press release. "For as long as I can remember, my whole off-season until this point has been hockey and doing what was necessary to prepare for the upcoming season. Because of my current indecision, and without the type of mental and physical commitment that I'm accustomed to having, I've decided to step away from the game."
Williams still played at a high level in those last two years with the Hurricanes (104 points in 164 games from 2017-19) and would serve as an upgrade to virtually any team's group forward group — if he decides to return.