The Carolina Hurricanes are coming off a crucial victory against the New York Rangers where players like Derek Stepan, Jordan Staal, and Jesper Fast played big roles on the scoresheet and in the physical part of the game.
This group of players is focused and ready for the task at hand but the three players previously mentioned all have something in common. This summer all three will become unrestricted free agents.
None of these players will be leading the team in scoring but they play a vital role in rod Brind’Amour’s scheme, not to mention the leadership in the locker room. Stepan was brought back for this reason and obviously, Staal has been a leader and the captain for quite some time in Raleigh.
Additionally, Paul Stastny, Calvin De Haan, and Shayne Gostisbehere will also become unrestricted free agents at the season’s end. It is not out of the question to see one of them return next season as Gostisbehere is practically on a tryout for the the remainder of this year.
I am afraid to say that there are two more pending free agents and both of them are in net with Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta not having contracts beyond this season.
With Pyotr Kochetkov signed for three more years it is hard to believe that both of these free agent keepers will be returning to Raleigh next season.
Unless Andersen can lead a run to bringing the Stanley Cup back to Carolina, he may be too expensive with the emergence of Kochetkov and the need to extend some of the restricted free agents approaching.
Restricted free agents are the property of the team so any potential suitors would have to make an offer sheet like the Canes did for Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Newcomer Jesse Puljujarvi is a RFA at seasons end and is likely to stay on with the club after the acquisition by Don Waddell at the trade deadline. Dylan Coghlan is also set to become an RFA this summer and will probably be considered.
The real RFA’s to prepare for are Martin Necas, Seth jarvis, and Jack Drury whom are all set to become RFA’s after the following season. This off-season may be the time to lock one of them up before they play on a contract year.
Injured players Max Pacioretty, Ondrej Kase and Jake Gardiner will also be unrestricted free agents that will be considered for the right price.
Obviously the hope is that the captain returns on a team friendly deal and that money can be saved having locked up Kochetkov for only $2 million per season.
The blue line will be interesting as Gostisbehere may price himself out and force Waddell to look for a more affordable veteran to fill the spot with Jalen Chatfield. Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce will be unrestricted free agents as the big three RFA’s contracts expire.
Either way, this will be an important off-season to watch as the actions this summer will all be done with full attention on the next two off-seasons.