The first day of free agency for the NHL feels like your birthday and Christmas wrapped up into one big day. For the Carolina Hurricanes, they wasted little time getting down to business. They clearly had a plan for what they wanted to do, and they weren’t afraid to throw some money around.
The first big issue that the team resolved, to some degree, was their situation in the net. With Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta both hitting the market, it wasn’t a secret that Don Waddell wanted to bring them both back. That’s precisely what they did.
The Hurricanes started the day by bringing back Antti Raanta on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, making us all think he would be in tandem with Pyotr Kochetkov next season. They wouldn’t be done there as Frederik Andersen’s extension was announced shortly after as he returns on a two-year, $6.8 million contract. Adding to the returns, the team also officially announced the extension for Jesper Fast, as he signed a two-year extension at $2.4 million per season.
There are also a few new fish in the pond that will be suiting up for the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time next season. For the forward group, the team signed Michael Bunting for three years at $4.5 million per season. Bunting, 27, spent the last two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing alongside some of their big stars. The big news of the day came with the Hurricanes signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov, considered by some to be the biggest player in free agency, to an already loaded defensive core for $7.75 million over the next two seasons. Orlov, 31, was very good in his short stint with Boston after being traded by Washington.
As a whole, I loved Carolina’s first day of free agency. While they haven’t signed the big sniper that I hoped they would, the team didn’t shy away from spending money. They also brought back a very important forward in Fast. It was refreshing to see them act aggressively on the open market.
With their new additions, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered before the start of the season. The most glaring is their defenseman situation. Though Dmitry Orlov is a great addition, and Tony DeAngelo appears to be on his way, it leads to speculation that someone will be on his way out, most likely Brett Pesce. I wouldn’t want to see him go anywhere in a perfect world. I’m not entirely sure what will happen with him, though we may learn something sooner rather than later.
The other question everyone seems to have is about the Canes’ situation in the crease. The tandem of Andersen and Raanta has proven to work for the team, winning the Jennings Trophy in 2021-22 and finishing second last season. However, Pyotr Kochetkov signed his extension to keep him in Carolina for four seasons. I don’t doubt that he’s the goalie of the future in the eyes of the front office, but he’s going to need to see some regular time soon.
Today is just the first day of free agency, so there is still plenty for the Canes to do. The expectation is that Sebastian Aho will be signing a long-term extension soon. They are also kicking around the idea of trading for Erik Karlsson. Regardless, the Carolina Hurricanes are going for it, and the fans will reap its benefits when the season starts in October.