Feb 25, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jiri Tlusty (19) and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers (57) go after a loose puck during the third period at First Niagara Center. Buffalo beats Carolina 3 to 2. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes' RFAs: Jiri Tlusty

Mar 11, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) is congratulated by teammate forward Jiri Tlusty (19) after the game against the New York Rangers at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Rangers 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most interesting restricted free agent on the Carolina Hurricanes, Jiri Tlusty‘s bargain deal at $1.6 million is done.

Tlusty turned some heads during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, finishing fifth in goals in the league and playing a big role in the success of the first line.

Whether it was fair or not, expectations for Tlusty were high at the start of the 2013-14 season, but instead he disappointed, scoring three goals in his first 27 games and was demoted to the fourth line at times and even a healthy scratch.

But the Czech Republic native finished the season on a high note and looked more like the player he was during the lockout season. In the last three games of the season, Tlusty had four points.

As for re-signing him, there’s plenty to debate. He’s a small reason, among many, why the Hurricanes did not make the playoffs this season, but also isn’t a bad player.

Tlusty could be a good secondary scorer, but he’s used for primary production on the Canes. There’s also the problem that he scores in bunches and has really only excelled when playing with stars like Eric Staal and Alexander Semin.

One could also argue that fellow RFA Andrei Loktionov is a better fit in the top six than Tlusty.

However, 30 points in 68 games is not an awful statistic by any means and a big concern with Tlusty is how much he is worth. He deserves a raise on the $1.6 million salary. I would say about $1 million more to put him at $2.5 million, possibly less.

As debating on re-signing Tlusty is difficult, my answer to re-signing him or not will not be clear-cut.

The Hurricanes should not re-sign Tlusty as a top-six player. They need to add another winger. If they re-sign him and sign no one else, it’s pointless. But if they make an additional signing or trade to improve the offense, then that would be okay.

And if not re-signing Tlusty forces management to make a bigger signing or trade, then that may be the route to go.

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