As we approach noon on this July 1st, the NHL free agency rumors are buzzing and we will all soon know the destinations of many of the unrestricted free agents. The Carolina Hurricanes should be very active this afternoon to fill needs.
With a need for goal-scoring after struggling in the playoffs, Don Waddell will explore every option to add to the forward group.
Recently a new addition to the free agent market landed yesterday after Matt Duchene was bought out by the Nashville Predators. Now an unrestricted free agent, Duchene moves high up the rankings of free agents.
Arguably now the best available forward, Duchene may be able to come at a steal as he will be paid the remaining three years of his contract from Nashville.
The 32-year-old center had 22 goals and 34 assists last season, including 5 power-play goals. He has the versatility to play on the wing, which is valuable with the depth at center in Carolina.
In 2021-22 the former 2009 first-round pick had 43 goals and 43 assists. Speed has always been the name of the game for Duchene and his ability to play special teams makes him unique.
After having an $8 million dollar cap hit per season with the Predators, the expectation is that he will sign a new year deal between 4-5 million per year.
With the NHL salary cap only rising a million this season, many teams will struggle to make a lot of moves while staying under the cap. Next year the salary cap is expected to raise much more.
Because of this, many free agents may take one-year deals to be available next summer with more teams having available cap space.
Duchene may fall under this situation as he is already making the money from his prior contract and can find a good situation to succeed and win before heading back out to the market for a big contract.
The Ontario native would fit with the Canes as he can play a fast paced game up front and create offensive chances as well as finishing important opportunities.
This may be the perfect situation for Don Waddell and the Canes as a player of this caliber is made available and at a steal financially. It should be a priority to attack Duchene early this afternoon and make him feel like the top priority.