Carolina Hurricanes: Stick or twist – UFA edition

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 18: Ian Cole #28 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores at 3:12 of overtime against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 18, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes defeated the Rangers 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 18: Ian Cole #28 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores at 3:12 of overtime against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 18, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes defeated the Rangers 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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ELMONT, NEW YORK – APRIL 24: Derek Stepan #18 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on April 24, 2022, in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NEW YORK – APRIL 24: Derek Stepan #18 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on April 24, 2022, in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Derek Stepan

We’re getting into the depth forward now and while he has been a great leader and is one of the six former Rangers on this roster, Derek Stepan will not be at the forefront of most people’s worries regarding who comes back and who doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that he is walking away this summer. Stepan was brought to Raleigh to be a veteran player and he’s done that.

Stepan has helped guide a young core and helped a lot of players take that next step in their development. He’s been referred to as the ultimate professional because whether he was in the lineup or not, he was able to take every decision with grace and was happy to do whatever it took to help the team. I don’t think a single fan has a bad word to say about Derek Stepan and with a good reason.

As a right-handed forward that can play on the wing and down the middle, Stepan was brought in to take that 4th line center role and help the team cope if the depth down the middle was tested. He’s been an essential asset to the Canes all season and he’s handled himself with a tremendous amount of class. I’m sure this is the kind of guy management would love to have back in Raleigh.

Stepan might not want to be though. At his age, Stepan might be more content with playing regularly than winning the championship that has illuded him for the duration of his career. However, if he is willing to come back at a discount, I don’t think there’s a question. He’s not put a foot wrong since coming into this organization and everyone appreciates what he does both on and off the ice.

Next up, is the most unlikely overtime hero.