Carolina Hurricanes Guide to Top UFA Targets As Market Opens Today

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

The day is upon us as the NHL free agent market opens today at noon EST. The Carolina Hurricanes have already made moves ahead of the gates opening with Jake Guentzel's rights being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2025 3rd-round draft choice. It appears that Guentzel and the Lightning are close to what could be the richest deal of the day, but nothing is official.

It was doom and gloom in Carolina after this news broke yesterday but that potential $8 million offered to Guentzel can just be used on a new face or bringing back some familiar faces. This team was more than just a trade deadline acquisition and there are some quality options via trade or free agency.

Speaking of which, let's look at some of the top options available through free agency as we are just hours away from the craziness.

Steven Stamkos

The long-time Tampa Bay Lightning captain seems to be destined to suit up for a new team after the Lightning have made Guentzel the priority. The 2-time Stanley Cup winner was not overly impressed with the offers received by the club that drafted him so he will be testing the waters today.

Stamkos has been hampered by injuries in the past but undoubtedly still has the talent after scoring 40 goals in 81 games last season. His shot is deadly and word is he is looking to head back home to Toronto or potentially head to division rival, the New York Rangers.

If Don Waddell was still at the helm, he would be targeting Stamkos to get back at Guentzel and the Lightning but I would not expect to see him sign in Raleigh today.

Elias Lindholm

The former Cane was traded from Calgary to Vancouver during last season and did not impress. It was rumored that the Canucks were even shopping him at the trade deadline just months after acquiring him.

Still, Lindholm is the coveted right-handed center that the Canes feel would take them to the next level. He can play a two-way game and does have some offensive skills to justify the second center role. This would be a huge upgrade over what Jesperi Kotkaniemi has provided and put less pressure on Evgeny Kuznetsov's role.

Depending on how things play out early, I could see the Canes reuniting with Lindholm mid-way through the afternoon.

Jonathan Marchessault

Personally, this is the gem of the market for the Canes. Marchessault is a proven leader that can shoot the puck with dominance. Similar expectations to what Carolina expected from bringing in Max Pacioretty, minus the unfortunate injuries.

The original Vegas Golden Knight, Marchessault will not come cheap but he would be worthy of the same contract offered to Guentzel regarding per-year salary. At 33 years old, Marchessault should not get an 8-year contract offer.

Brandon Montour

Fresh off a Stanley Cup win, Brandon Montour would be an aggressive replacement for Brett Pesce. A little more money than what Pesce will get but it is deservedly so at this point. Montour can put up major points from the man advantage and can bring the snarl needed on the penalty kill.

If Eric Tulsky strikes out on the free agent forwards then this should be the play to bring the defensive unit up a notch in terms of offensive skill and help for the power play.

Bringing on Montour and Skjei to join Brent Burns, Jaccob Slavin, Dmitry Orlov, and Jalen Chatfield would be one of the best defensive units in the league and perfect for Rod Brind'Amour's system.

Tyler Toffoli

Toffoli has been a consistent 20-30 goal scorer over the last decade and is a winner after taking home the Stanley Cup in Los Angeles. He has bounced around as of late but still has put up 30-goal efforts.

The one issue with Toffoli would be that his speed is not great, but his finishing ability could be a huge asset on the power play. If he plays with enough speed around him, they will find him as he gets to the right areas to put the puck in the net.

He wont be the first option but a cheaper fall back option to keep in mind.

Jake DeBrusk

DeBrusk has seemed to be looking to get out of Boston for several years and this will be his chance. Despite his unhappiness with the Bruins, he has been good for 20-25 goals a season and is young enough to take his play to another level.

Free agency is crazy so I would expect a high demand for him, but Carolina would be a great opportunity for him to play with skilled forwards and still win in a much different playing atmosphere.

Some other notable players include Chandler Stephenson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Anthony Duclair, and Jonathan Drouin. I thought Tyler Bertuzzi would be a perfect fit in Carolina, but reports early have him agreeing to a deal in Chicago.