Carolina Hurricanes UFA Targets

Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

The Carolina Hurricanes have always avoided making drastic moves on the first day of free agency and this year wont be the year they start. Among the frenzy, Steven Stamkos was re-signed by the Tampa Bay Lightening which will cause a domino effect for the rest of the market.

Ron Francis has come out and said that he is looking to acquire one more top six forward for the 2016-2017 season. Since a trade wasn’t made during the Draft last weekend, it appears that Francis will be looking to add a player through free agency.

A busy Wednesday has heavily influenced the UFA market for July 1st. With a player like Steven Stamkos looking to test free agency, many teams started dumping salary cap to make room for the star center.

Related Story: Carolina Hurricanes Sign RFA Logan Brown to One Year Deal

However, now that Stamkos is unavailable teams will still be looking to spend their cap room but on the remaining players. These players include forwards Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, David Backes, Andrew Ladd and Eric Staal. Those players will now see their values skyrocket because there is one less top option available.

A majority of these players will be overpaid or given too long of contracts, and unlike other teams the Carolina Hurricanes can’t afford a bad contract. The Hurricanes need to find a “bargain player” that is more budget friendly.

One option that many though could come back at a lower price was Eric Staal. However, Chip Alexander has reported that the Carolina Hurricanes are not pursuing Eric Staal at this time and will look elsewhere.

The players that are more in the range for Ron Francis to bring on are:

Tomas Vanek

Tomas Vanek was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild. Vanek registered 41 points last season, but due to a high contract figure and his age, the Wild had little other options. Out of the players on the list Vanek has the biggest chance to see his value balloon.

There will most likely be multiple teams interested in the 31 year old winger, and will see a bidding war between teams to add him. If his value stays low, it would be a perfect fit for the Carolina Hurricanes. He would provide a veteran presence for younger players on the team and will add scoring immediately.

Troy Brouwer

Troy Brouwer is the other player that is in the Hurricanes range that may see his value balloon. After a successful 2015-2016 season and playoff run with the Blues he is on many teams radars. Caniacs may be familiar with the forward due to his four years with the Washington Capitals.

Brouwer has provided more of a bottom six role, but over the past five seasons he has had two 20 goal seasons and two seasons with more than 40 points. He provides scoring, but he is most likely a third line player.

He could still provide value to the Carolina Hurricanes, but doesn’t fulfill the needs as much as other UFA options.

Jiri Hudler

One of the best things about Jiri Hudler is that he has fallen off of the radar in the past few seasons. Last year he spent time with the Flames and the Panthers, two teams who don’t see a whole lot of coverage.

Hudler is just two years removed from a 35 goal season with the Flames. He has registered at least 45 points in each of the last five seasons, except his injury shortened 2012-2013 season. Although he is 32, Hudler could still add scoring and experience to a young Carolina Hurricanes team who could use more of both.

Mikkel Boedker

Mikkel Boedker is one of the youngest UFA’s on the market and therefore most likely one of the top targets for Ron Francis. Boedker is a player that always seems ready to have a 20 goal season, but is yet to break through.

At the age of 26 he still has a ton of upside and is trending in the right direction as opposed to many aging UFA’s who are trending downward. Out of all of the players on the list, Boedker is the most likely for Francis to give additional years since he has more longevity.

Boedker has shown flashes of brilliance in the past and could easily plug into the first or second line as a 6 foot tall right winger. It may take a little more to land the young player, but the money is worth it.

Kris Versteeg

Kris Versteeg is a familiar player to the Carolina Hurricanes after playing most of the 2015-2016 season with the Canes. Versteeg was not shy when it came to his approval of the team and the Raleigh area.

Versteeg was able to fit into the top six last year and create opportunities. The best thing about Versteeg is that he was able to control the puck and create plays and find open players with good passing. That skill would still help the Hurricanes out immensely by finding open areas in the ice and helping the younger less refined skill.

Versteeg could provide a cost effective and familiar solution for the Canes. He would most likely come back at a lower rate than other UFA’s.

Michael Grabner

Michael Grabner has had a rough couple of seasons split between the Islanders and the Maple Leafs. He is capable of putting up 20 goal seasons but his production has declined in the last three seasons only putting up 26, 13, and 18 points. Over the last four years he has only been able to play one of them without missing a significant amount of time with an injury.

He is a riskier player to sign due to shakier production and not playing full seasons, but the skill is there. Grabner is the type of player that when a team is making a run and he is producing everyone will wonder how he was overlooked in free agency. Though he is risky, he can come at a discount which could make him a perfect target for a budget conscious team.

Next: Carolina Hurricanes need to fill Forward Holes in Free Agency

The start of free agency is always exciting but its important not to get caught in the hysteria of the first day. Staying calm and avoiding over paying on the first day is boring but is the smartest choice. The best teams don’t waste cap space on overpaying players