Carolina Hurricanes GM Eric Tulsky Bolsters Defensive Group on Day 1 of Free Agency

Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes
Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

The dust has settled after the initial frenzy from the free agent market opening yesterday. The Carolina Hurricanes took some hits early on in the afternoon but came back and put together a solid day. General manager, Eric Tulsky handled himself nicely for his first July 1st and locked down the defensive unit with some key additions.

Before the pain of Jake Guentzel leaving wore off, Brett Pesce inked a deal with New Jersey, followed by Teuvo Teravainen heading back to Chicago. Joining Pesce in the Garden State is Stefan Noesen, but mixed in was the return of Jordan Martinook on a three-year deal.

The biggest hole to fill was left by Brady Skjei heading to Nashville with Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault. Skjei got a mega deal worth $49 million over 7 years. Far too rich for the Canes wallet, Tulsky turned his attention to other possibilities and acted.

Defense Wins Championships

Jaccob Slavin's new extension was announced to provide stability on the blue line. Additionally, Jalen Chatfield had re-signed for Carolina earlier in the offseason. Slavin will be manning the blue line for the next 7 years and remains a rock of the organization and the community.

With Brent Burns having one season remaining on his contract, along with Dmitry Orlov, the top 4 were locked in before the departures and additions. Still, panic naturally sets in with the first hour of free agency seeing players exit.

Two vacancies needed quality replacements and Tulsky did just that, starting with the signing of right-handed defenseman, Sean Walker. Walker had 29 points last season between Philadelphia and Colorado. He is a very responsible player that can move the puck up the ice. For just $3.6 million, this is a perfect replacement for Pesce at far less cost.

Walker knows how to play a shutdown style and focus on keeping the puck out of his net. The uniting with Rod Brind'Amour should increase point production as well. In terms of production from last season, Walker will provide more than what Pesce gave the Canes.

The Skjei replacement came late in the day and it is a familiar face in Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere came to Carolina before last season at the trade deadline from the Arizona Coyotes. After playing 23 games in Raleigh, "Ghost" signed with Detroit and put up his second-best season with 56 points.

The defensive side of his game has always been his biggest concern and last year was no different, posting a minus 16 in 81 games. Offensively, Gostisbehere had 27 assists on the man advantage, which will be very welcome for this Canes unit.

Skjei's offense has been not only replaced but arguably improved but the defensive side will be the main concern Chatfield and Gostisbehere had good chemistry together before and Chatfield is a defensive beast.

Dylan Coghlan is still around to be the 7th defenseman but the young guns are a step away from being ready to contribute at the NHL level. Scott Morrow can play a bigger role in the AHL before making the full-time move to Carolina. Alexander Nikishin appears to be NHL-ready and should be available in April from his KHL contract.

The summer is far from over with Tulsky and the Canes needing much more to be done before training camp opens in September. It is discouraging to see such big players leave the organization, but the fact the defensive group is locked in and very talented brings peace to the state of the team.

Scoring up front needs to be addressed before stating this team has not skipped a beat from last year. A new Seth Jarvis contract needs to be done sooner rather than later to truly calm the Caniac nation.