Looking at the UFAs, there could be a few solid options, but at what cost?
Braden Holtby’s time in Washington appears to be over and he could be had for just cap space. Looking at his numbers the past couple of seasons, he already appears to be on the decline.
At 30 years of age, he is more than likely looking for his last big payday and wanting to cash in. With that in mind, he is probably wanting close to a max term which is extremely risky to give out to any goalie, especially one on the wrong side of 30.
Over the past two seasons, he has gone 57-33-11 with a .905 and a GAA of 2.95, losing his crease to rookie Ilya Samsonov in the process. There is no doubt in my mind that whoever signs Holtby to a massive deal this offseason will regret it extremely quickly so let’s just hope that that team isn’t Carolina.
Corey Crawford is a guy that could be had on the cheap on a one-to-two-year deal max but I doubt he wants to leave Chicago. Nothing more than short term band-aid, he isn’t going to be much of an upgrade in net, if at all. At 35 he has had his fair share of injury concerns over his career adding to the risk of having him as your number one.
The final two names on this list are the most intriguing but the most unlikely to actually become available. Mentioned before, Robin Lehner reportedly has a contract extension in the works with Vegas. Coming in at five years five million per, he has been their go-to guy ever since the trade deadline.
There is no doubt that he is a clear upgrade over what the Hurricanes have in the net now which makes you wonder why they haven’t pulled the trigger on him before given their long-rumored interest. Dating back to the past couple of summers the front office reportedly was testing the waters on both Mrazek and Lehner before opting to go with Petr.
At this year’s deadline that interest continued but yet again nothing transpired. It was reported that he is/has been seeking a longer-term deal, which could have been the turn off from the Canes perspective, but when you see the numbers of his new deal it makes you wonder.
With him having a handshake deal in place you can cross his name off the list of players making Jacob Markstrom of Vancouver the number one guy poised to hit the open market. The Canucks are going to have a difficult decision to make with Thatcher Demko, their goalie of the future, and the Seattle expansion draft looming. They can’t protect both of these guys so one of these two goalies is bound to find themselves in a new home.
Although it is highly possible they opt to sign Markstrom to an extension and figure the rest out later, there is a chance he tests the waters as a UFA. Given the number of teams interested he may sign for a bit more than what Vegas is offering Lehner. Like Holtby the kicker her would be term as he too is on the other side of 30.
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If the asking prices around the league are as high as they have been reported to be are the Hurricanes really better off making those kinds of moves? Are they better-subtracting guys like Pesce and Mrazek for Andersen or are the better with Pesce, Mrazek, and fixing their other holes?
At the end of the day what makes me think that the Carolina Hurricanes would be better off standing pat is the fact that their biggest need is actually not in net. The main reason they have lost to Boston the past two seasons is the fact that they lack grit and another top-six forward, preferably left wing. Because of this, I feel as if they should use their limited cap space and trade chips to improve these two areas.
Yes, I am well aware that it may take an asset like Pesce get that top-six guy but even then I feel as if they would still be a better team. Plus, looking ahead at the draft, Yaroslav Askarov appears to be the real deal. Should he be the guy the Canes draft, all they actually would need is a two-three year stop gap anyways.
Question for CC Readers: What do you think the Carolina Hurricanes should do with their goaltenders?