Top 5 Free Agents the Carolina Hurricanes Should Target

Jun 1, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho (20) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho (20) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 25, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Brendan Leipsic (28) defends Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Brendan Leipsic (28) defends Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Saad

The first of many depth forwards on this list is going to be Brandon Saad, currently a winger for the President’s Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche. Saad, currently 28 years old, plays on the left wing for the Avs on a line with Tyson Jost and Valeri Nichushkin (even though the center is normally Nazem Kadri before he was suspended for a dangerous hit on former Carolina Hurricane Justin Faulk). Saad, in the regular season, had 15 goals and 24 points in 44 games; while in the playoffs, Saad notched 4 goals for 4 points in 5 games as the Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in the first round.

Brandon Saad was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks #43 overall in the 2nd round in the 2011 NHL draft, one spot after former Hurricane Victor Rask. In his draft year, Saad had 27 goals for 55 points in 57 games for the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, to go along with 3 goals for 11 points in 12 games in the playoffs in a semi-final exit at the hands of the Windsor Spitfires.

Saad would make his NHL debut for the Chicago Blackhawks the next year, playing in two games and having zero points. He was then sent back to the Saginaw Spirit, where he would be named Captain. Saad would have an insane year, scoring 34 goals en route to 76 points in just 44 games. In the playoffs, he would have 17 points in 12 games, (8 of those goals) in another second round exit, this time to the London Knights.

2012-2013 would be the first time Saad would be considered a regular for the Chicago lineup, this year playing in 46 games and having 10 goals for 27 points. In the playoffs, Saad would play in 23 games and score 1 goal to go along with 6 points as the Chicago Blackhawks would win the Stanley Cup. Saad would then finish 3rd in Calder voting behind notable players such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Brendan Gallagher and ahead of Jonas Brodin and number one overall pick Nail Yakupov.

Saad would play 2 more seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, putting up 99 points in 157 games, 42 of those points being goals. A few weeks after the second Stanley Cup of his career, Saad, along with Michael Paliotta and Alex Broadhurst, was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets with a return of Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, and Corey Tropp. Saad would stay two years with the Blue Jackets, putting up 106 points in 157 games – 55 of those points being goals.

Now, comically enough, the team trading for Saad would lose the trade again. This time, the Blue Jackets traded Brandon Saad back to the Chicago Blackhawks alongside former Cane Anton Forsberg and a 5th round pick in 2018 for Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a 6th round pick in 2017. Back in Chicago, Saad would play 3 seasons with 115 points in 220 games, 62 of those being goals.

Before this most recent season, Saad would be traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm. Saad has had great success since arriving in Colorado but you would think most people would. I haven’t been able to find anything about the Avs wanting to re-sign Saad, but with the Colorado Avalanche having about $20 million and needing to resign Vezina finalist Philipp Grubauer, Norris trophy finalist Cale Makar, and captain Gabriel Landeskog, it seems unlikely, but not impossible, that Brandon Saad will return.

Plugging Saad into the formula, you would end up with something like this:

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Trocheck-Necas

Saad-Staal-Jarvis

That top 9 group has the making of talent and some two-way ability, alongside the ability to match with any lineup in the NHL. Adding Saad to Staal’s wing could easily be one of the best off-season signings.

Contract-wise, Saad is currently on the last year of a 6 year, $36 million dollar deal with an AAV of $6 million per year. I highly doubt he asks for an upgrade as his numbers haven’t been over the top amazing and to sign him, the Canes would probably have to offer around a 3 to 4 year deal with an AAV around $5-5.5 million, which the Carolina Hurricanes can afford with relative ease.

Saad also could complete the power play units, as the first unit would look something like Svechnikov, Aho, Teravainen, Trocheck and Hamilton, with the second unit being Necas, Staal, Saad, Niederreiter and either Bean or someone else depending on how the expansion draft plays out. Depth scoring has been a huge problem for the Carolina Hurricanes in both the regular season and in the playoffs, and signing someone like Saad could add a huge boost offensively.