With longtime president Don Waddell out, who is the Carolina Hurricanes’ interim GM?

Eric Tulsky isn’t the Carolina Hurricanes’ new general manager — yet, anyway.

He was very quick to make that distinction when reached for comment Friday about Don Waddell’s departure from that very role earlier in the day.

“So, it’s an interim role,” Tulsky said in a phone interview. “For now, I am the person answering the phone when other teams call.”

It’s fair to say Tulsky will be doing more than answering phones. He’s been doing a lot more than that for the Hurricanes since the organization hired him in 2014 as a consultant, and then as a full-time analyst in 2015. That was also the year Waddell became the Canes’ president. Waddell assumed the general manager’s role in 2018.

From his beginnings with the organization and through that transition, Tulsky has played a key role in finding and developing players. His background, however, was not in hockey — not even close.

A Philadelphia native, Tulsky earned a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from California-Berkeley, then conducted nanotechnology research in such areas as DNA sequencing and solar energy.

So, why hockey?

“I’ve always been a hockey fan,” Tulsky told the News & Observer in 2015, after he was hired to the Canes’ staff. “It was something I was doing in my spare time, for fun, and found myself with an opportunity to make a career out of it.”

Tulsky was named manager of hockey analytics in 2017, before being promoted to vice president of hockey management and strategy in 2018. Since being named assistant general manager in 2020, Tulsky has been involved in all player personnel decisions, overseen pro scouting and the team’s hockey information department, and assisted with player contract negotiations, salary cap compliance, and other hockey-related matters.

All of that was under Waddell.

“He was a huge part of what we did and a huge part of my own personal development and it’s gonna be very different without him,” Tulsky said Friday. “But, he is ready to move on, and we will have to make things work without him.”

“Making things work” will include a little bit of extra work for Tulsky and assistant GM Darren Yorke this offseason, or for however long the “interim” tag lasts. The Canes have nine regular roster players who are unrestricted free agents this offseason, six more who are restricted free agents, and more than $30 million in salary cap space to work with, per CapFriendly.

“Certainly, we have a lot of work to do on contracts this summer,” Tulsky said. “I think we aim to be a very active team in general and we never want to miss an opportunity to get better. Whether our players contracts are up or not, we always have a lot of work to do, looking for every opportunity there is.”

So for the Hurricanes, it will be business as usual — for now — with someone different answering the phone.

“The real organizational change will come at the end of the search,” Tulsky insisted, “where they are, we are, looking for candidates and trying to find the right person for a permanent role.”

Asked if he was among those interested in that “permanent role,” Tulsky paused.

“That’s probably too early for me to comment on,” he said.