Have the Carolina Hurricanes Already Said Goodbye to Pesce?

Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes
Florida Panthers v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

The NHL off-season is upon us and it is time for the Carolina Hurricanes to make final decisions on all the players that remain without contracts. It is also nearing the point for all Caniacs to start accepting that some familiar faces will no longer be a part of the organization.

One face that is rumored to already be committed to another Eastern Conference team is defenseman, Brett Pesce. Pesce was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft by Carolina and has played in 627 games for the franchise.

The New York native finished his 6-year contract, with a salary cap hit of $4,025,000 a season. At 29 years old, Pesce will be one of the top defensemen available this summer, along with defensive partner, Brady Skjei. The right-handed blue liner will command a similar length contract with at least $2 million more a season.

After contract extension discussions went nowhere last summer with then general manager, Don Waddell, it was assumed Pesce would be traded before the past season. That did not happen and Pesce did not have his best year, which some thought would help a return to Raleigh. It appears that may not be in the cards, although nothing would surprise me. The issue is that the Canes have so many players to target that Pesce may be left behind.

This season was Pesce's worst season statistically, as he recorded just 3 goals and 10 points in 70 games. This was the lowest output by the veteran since his rookie campaign, where he had 16 points.

Although the quality of blue liners on the market is not star-powered, there are a plethora of them and that will allow Tulsky to replace Pesce at the cost-conscious rate and save money for the forwards that will be commanding a lot.

Because Rod Brind'Amour's style emphasizes the defensemen jumping up in the play, he could turn an average player into something special at an affordable rate. The defense appears to be anchored by Jaccob Slavin, Jalen Chatfield, and Brent Burns but some youngsters could crack the lineup this year in Scott Morrow and Alexander Nikishin.

For this reason, it makes sense that Pesce is already one foot out the door with less than a week till the free agent market opens.