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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May 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) has a shot blocked by Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) has a shot blocked by Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Mikael Granlund

A player the Carolina Hurricanes know all too well, Mikael Granlund is currently a member of the Nashville Predators. Granlund was actually linked to the Canes both during the 2020 NHL offseason as a free agency target, and during the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline before the Nashville Predators went on a hot streak, going on to lose to the Hurricanes in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

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Mikael Granlund, currently 29 years old, was drafted 9th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2010 behind players like Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, current Carolina Hurricane Nino Niederreiter and former Hurricane Jeff Skinner. In Granlund’s draft year, he put up 13 goals to go along with 40 points in 43 games for HIFK in the Liiga in Finland, not including a goal and 6 points in 6 playoff games. These point totals would lead to Granlund being named the Liiga’s Rookie of the Year in that season.

Granlund would play two more seasons for HIFK, putting up 28 goals to go along with 87 points in 84 games, along with 5 goals and 18 points in 19 playoff games which included a championship with HIFK in the 2010-2011 season. Another highlight was his casual lacrosse-style goal for the Finnish World Junior team in 2010, which was an absolute beauty. The Wild would finally bring Granlund to North America in the 2012-2013 season, where he would split time between the NHL and AHL. Granlund would have 2 goals and 8 points in 27 games with the Wild, along with 10 goals and 28 points in 29 games with the Wild’s AHL affiliate at the time, the Houston Aeros.

Granlund ended up playing a total of 7 seasons in Minnesota, playing a total of 461 games and totaling 93 goals and 317 points. During the 2018-2019 season, Granlund was traded to the Nashville Predators for forward Kevin Fiala in a 1-for-1 trade. He has played 131 games for the Predators, and has amassed 31 goals and 31 assists for 62 goals.

Mikael Granlund has a wonderful goal-scoring touch while at the same time, boasting blistering speed. He’s lost some of his foot speed, but my goodness it’d be hard to say that he isn’t the fastest player on the ice most of the time during his shifts. Plugging him into the top 9 formula would look something like this:

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Granlund-Trocheck-Necas

Niederreiter-Staal-Jarvis

Extra physical protection for Seth Jarvis on that third line, who I definitely think should/will make the roster next year, the second line has pure speed and skill with Necas and Trocheck having decently solid two-way ability, and the opportunity for the TSA line to be used year round. Again, this would be a top 9 that most teams would have difficulty staying with (that aren’t currently $17 million over the cap).

Speaking of cap space, let’s talk about a potential deal with Mikael Granlund. The Nashville Predators currently have $16 million in cap space. With Juuse Saros, Dante Fabbro, good rookie Jeremy Davies, another good rookie Eeli Tolvanen and a ton of other depth players to re-sign in the offseason, I highly doubt that Granlund returns, especially after testing the market last year.

Mikael Granlund is on the end of a 1-year, $3.75 million contract after going to free agency and not finding anything he likes. With his main value being his speed and his ability to score, I can see the Carolina Hurricanes offering him something like the Jesper Fast deal – a 2-3 year deal with about $3-3.5 million AAV. A deal like that seems fair for both sides, as Granlund gets to play in the top 9 with a lot of skilled players, with a few Finnish friends as well, and the Canes don’t pay him a ton of money and get good depth scoring and good speed to add to the top 6/9.

Also, Granlund has the ability to complete the powerplay units with the loaded first unit of Svechnikov, Aho, Teravainen, Trocheck, and Hamilton, and a super solid and borderline first unit anywhere else in the NHL with a second unit of Granlund, Necas, Jarvis, Niederreiter and potentially Jake Bean 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 Granlund could add a huge boost offensively.

Another small, mostly unimportant but incredibly fun thing: Mikael Granlund is Finnish, which pairs well with the unholy amount of Finnish players the Carolina Hurricanes currently have/have had in the past. Hopefully, if Granlund does become a Carolina Hurricane, it ends up better than a former top 6 center/winger who was Finnish and became the villain of a round one matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs.