NHL Rumors: Changes Are Coming with the Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes will be a fascinating team to watch this off-season after the New York Rangers eliminated them in six games in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

General manager Don Waddell has some big decisions to make. It was not the season the Hurricanes wanted to have. Despite finishing second in the Metro Division, the Hurricanes wanted more. It was tough to see them go down 0-3 only to fall in six games after a disastrous third period in Game 6.

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Every team wants to win the Stanley Cup, but only one team lifts it. Carolina last lifted a Stanley Cup in 2006.

They have been to the Conference Finals three times, going back to 2009, but they have yet to win a game in the Conference Final. Before we get to the free agents, their head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, has been the talk of the coaching market.

However, it seems Waddell and Owner Tom Dundon believe in Brind’Amour and his staff and will announce contract extensions per Kevin Weekes for the head coach and his staff in the coming days.

The Hurricanes embody how their head coach plays. If he had left, you would have seen a different style the Hurricanes play. Everyone knew Brind’Amour wanted to stay. He is Carolina, and this group is so connected. He can get the most out of nothing. Though the roster is talented, the Hurricanes don’t have a superstar.

Along with the coach, the Carolina Hurricanes have 13 players who will be free agents this summer. Nine will be unrestricted free agents, and four will be restricted free agents.

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According to CapFriendly, the Hurricanes already have 13 players signed next season, taking up $56.8 million in salary cap space. They have about $30.9 million in cap space to play with. Not everyone is coming back.

At the deadline, the Hurricanes decided it was time to trade for players pending UFA because their previous approach did not work. The question is, will the owner pay the dollars to keep key players?

We know there is a perception that their owner does not want to pay. You saw what happened with defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton ended up in New Jersey because the owner did not want to pay $9 million to keep him. It could also be a trend worth watching this summer with the Canes.

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Of the eight UFAs, it is most likely that DeAngelo, Antti Raanta, and Teuvo Teravainen will go to free agency. There is potential for Jordan Martinook and Stefan Noesen to do the same. But you have to think Carolina will do their best to keep them.

However, the big question is what the Hurricanes do with deadline acquisition Jake Guentzel.

As NHLRumors.com has reported via Dave Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, the Hurricanes want to try to re-sign Guentzel. That has been their way of thinking since acquiring from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Guentzel will command a market.

Defensemen like Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce will want to stay in Carolina as they are the backbone of that defense. However, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, it does not sound like the Hurricanes are willing to budge on the offer they made last year.

“Pesce didn’t seem likely. They kinda told him what they were willing to do last year,” Friedman said. “I think it was in the (five years, $5MM AAV) range. It didn’t work. I don’t know that it’s changed.”

So Pesce and Skjei could be out of Carolina, and that blueline would look different.

Regarding RFAs, you must think that Jack Drury and Seth Jarvis will get nice raises. Both could get bridge deals, with Jarvis potentially getting a mid-range deal.

The name to watch is Martin Necas. On the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman said that GM Don Waddel is not likely to offer a contract to Necas, and they will look to trade his signing rights because Jarvis passed him on the depth chart.

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And finally, do the Carolina Hurricanes stick with the goaltending they have or look in another direction? We saw how Frederik Andersen came back from blood clots, but in the playoffs, especially in Round 2, he gave up some goals that cost the Hurricanes the series.

Andersen’s .826 save percentage in the series was not good enough, and Waddel could consider getting a better playoff goalie in Carolina. The Hurricanes’ goaltending has let them down each time they have been eliminated.

So the Carolina Hurricanes have much work to do this offseason, starting with the coach and moving down the line with their free agents and goaltending. It will be interesting to see what this team looks like next season.