Day 1 of Free Agency Brings Sad Endings and Welcome Beginnings for the Hurricanes

As several staples of the organization set their sights on new destinations, the Canes got to work trying to fill holes in their lineup as free agency opened.
Detroit Red Wings v Carolina Hurricanes
Detroit Red Wings v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

As free agency kicked off around the league, many Caniacs prepared for a tough day. Several of the team's unrestricted free agents hit the open market, as the Hurricanes weren't able to come to terms with most of them. This meant a significant amount of turnover for the organization. While some doors closed, it meant there were just as many doors that needed to open.

The entire Jake Guentzel saga that transpired over the weekend was a good precursor for the day ahead. Guentzel and the Lightning came to terms on a seven-year, $63 million deal on Sunday night, which was finalized on Monday morning. While it was a year less and a million dollars cheaper overall, Florida's state income tax laws made it a little more lucrative deal.

Monday also saw the beginning of new adventures for a pair of longtime Hurricanes. The longest-tenured of them was Brett Pesce, who signed with the Devils. Drafted by Carolina in 2013, Pesce developed into one of the most reliable defenders on the team during his nine seasons in Raleigh. Teuvo Teravainen returned to the Chicago Blackhawks on a three-year deal. The Canes acquired Teravainen in a deal back in 2016, and he became a central part of the offense alongside fellow Finn Sebastian Aho.

While not with the team as long, Brady Skjei developed an incredible partnership with fellow free agent Brett Pesce after being acquired from the Rangers at the 2020 deadline. Skjei experienced his two best offensive seasons with the Canes during the last two years, using them to earn a massive contract with Nashville. The final big loss of the day was Stefan Noesen, who joined Pesce in New Jersey for his second tour of duty. Noesen developed into a huge net front presence for the Canes, posting back-to-back 30-point seasons.

As for their efforts to fill the voids left by the exiting players, it was a bit of a mixed bag. The focus seemed to be on replacing their big defensemen, doing so by signing Sean Walker and Shayne Gostisbehere. Walker spent most of his career with the Kings before being traded to the Flyers last season, posting 22 points in 63 games. Walker was dealt again at the deadline to Colorado, where he scored seven points down the stretch before going scoreless in the postseason. Walker's deal is for five years at $3.6 million per year.

Most fans will remember Shayne Gostisbehere from his short stint with the club to end the 2022-23 season after being acquired at the deadline. After scoring ten points in 23 games with the Canes, Gostisbehere signed a one-year deal in Detroit and scored 56 points last season. This time around, Gostisbehre is here on a three-year contract. Both Walker and Gostisbere are offensive-minded puck movers, so I'm interested to see how they fit into the current defensive configuration. One, if not both, figures to see some power play time this season.

The forward signings inspire a little less confidence. With guys like Guentzel and Teravainen exiting the Top 6, the Canes didn't fill those holes on Day 1. Instead, they focused on improving their depth. The most notable of the additions was William Carrier, who signed a six-year deal worth $2 million per season. Carrier seems like a very good addition to the Bottom 6, boasting a strong two-way game and a Stanley Cup victory with Vegas, where he was an original expansion pick.

The Canes also made two smaller additions to the forward group by signing Eric Robinson and Tyson Jost. Robinson is a fast skater who hasn't quite broken out after seven years in Columbus and half a season in Buffalo. Despte only being 26, Jost has been around the block for a bit, playing with Colorado, Minnesota, and Buffalo over the last eight seasons after being a Top 10 pick. Both players were signed for less than $1 million.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, the Hurricanes also came to agreements to keep two members of the roster around a little longer. While he did see the market briefly, the team brought back Jordan Martinook on a three-year deal. Through six seasons with the club, few have exemplified what it means to be a Hurricane more than Martinook. His return felt inevitable, but it was still good to see the news come around on Monday morning.

The biggest news of the day for the team was the official announcement of Jaccob Slavin's eight-year extension. While not a free agent until after the upcoming season, the team went ahead and signed its most important defenseman to a long-term deal, keeping him in Raleigh for the foreseeable future. He has firmly planted himself as one of the team's biggest building blocks, next to Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

General Manager Eric Tulsky made an excellent point during his media availability on Monday afternoon that this was only the first day and that there's a lot more of the offseason to go. Not everything is going to be fixed in one day. There are still plenty of moves to be made. We're still on the lookout for a potential Martin Necas trade, though an extension feels a little more likely now. We're also watching for a Seth Jarvis extension since he's a restricted-free agent. There is more to come from this team this offseason, so don't worry if they didn't get everything you wanted done on Day 1.