Carolina Hurricanes Free Agents Ahead of the Summer

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers - Game Two
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers - Game Two / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Eastern Conference Finals begin this evening in New York as the Carolina Hurricanes and their fans continue to lick their wounds. Last year was a different feel at this time with the Florida Panthers heading to PNC Arena to begin the series. The Panthers will look to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second straight season when they face the Rangers. The focus in Raleigh is on the expiring contracts on the roster.

It is easy to forget the magnitude of "going for it" during the season, but the dust has settled and many players have earned significant pay raises on their next contract. In the salary cap era, money is tight and prevents great teams from staying together for too long. This summer will surely be a challenge for general manager, Don Waddell, to keep the gang together.

The amount of players in need of a new contract is quite large and has individual factors to determine the reality of staying or going. As the summer approaches, we will break down those players and their likelihood of remaining with the Canes. Per CapFriendly, the Hurricanes currently have $27,349,167 in available cap space.

Unrestricted free agents will be free to speak with other teams and leave the Canes come the opening of free agency. Restricted free agents remain the property of Carolina but without a current contract. They do not have the right to speak with other organizations unless an offer sheet is presented and accepted. Most recently, Jesperi Kotkaniemi was acquired via an offer sheet.

Ultimately restricted free agents will work out a contract with their team or that team will trade the player's rights to another organization for assets.

With that, here is a brief cheat sheet and layout for the off-season ahead. The Canes have 8 unrestricted free agents from the current roster and 6 restricted free agents. The restricted free agents are normally younger and on the rise, which is a perfect description for 3 players in imparticular. Seth Jarvis, Martin Necas, and Jack Drury contributed greatly to the team this season.

Of the 8 unrestricted free agents, 4 are forwards, and 4 are defensemen. The impact is felt far more on the blue line because Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Tony DeAngelo, and Jalen Chatfield all saw significant minutes under Rod Brind'Amour. DeAngelo played the least and was a healthy scratch until Pesce went down with an injury.

The four unrestricted free-agent forwards are newly acquired Jake Guentzel, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook, and Stefan Noesen. With the 3 top restricted free agents being forwards, there may not be enough money left for these veteran forwards unless a trade is made to clear space.

The 3 restricted free agents that have not been mentioned are promising youngster Ryan Suzuki, Game 2 of the Rangers series player, Maxime Comtois, and veteran, depth defenseman Dylan Coghlan. Among these 3 players, Suzuki is the priority and will not require much of a raise in pay.

The task is set for Don Waddell and we will dive deeper into this group in the coming weeks. I speak for all Caniacs that we hope for a quick next few weeks to move onto the off-season and next season!