The Carolina Hurricanes' New GM Should Make Brady Skjei A Priority

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

Now that the interim tag is removed from the new general manager, Eric Tulsky, the first order of business should be on the blue line. The Carolina Hurricanes had a deep group on defense last season and Tulsky recently re-signed Jalen Chatfield, but more work is required as three members will enter free agency this summer.

Realistically, not everyone can return to Raleigh this summer and Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, and Tony DeAngelo are almost certainly going to be on different rosters come training camp in the fall. DeAngelo is the easy man out but the salary cap will not allow both Skjei and Pesce to remain in Carolina at this point.

The real danger would be losing Skjei and Pesce to other teams in free agency, which would be a disaster for the rookie general manager.

Tulsky was involved in the negotiations with Pesce last summer that did not result in a new contract but Skjei is far more valuable to this team than Pesce at this point. Skjei provides solid defensive play for over 21 minutes a game while adding very strong offensive numbers. Some of this offensive production comes from anchoring the point on the blue line.

The Lakeville, Minnesota native is coming off a career-high in points with 47, and the season prior, he put up a career-high in goals with 18. This last season Skjei finished with 13 goals. At 30 years old, the former New York Rangers first-round draft choice is in the prime of his career and has fit in perfectly to Rod Brind'Amour's system.

The fact that Skjei is comfortable, familiar, and successful in the Carolina system and community could allow for a discount, but that discount will only come with an extra term on the contract. The experts believe that Skjei will command over $7 million per year, with the possibility of $8 million.

The contract range for Skjei will be anywhere from 5-6 years. Carolina could add to the contract to spread the salary over 8 seasons to help the burden of the cap hit for the near future. This will all depend on Skjei's willingness to work with Tulsky to stay in Raleigh.

The likelihood of Skjei staying will be if he signs before July 1st because a defenseman of his caliber on the open market will get crazy.

The free agent market for left-handed defensemen is not as strong as the market for right-handed defensemen. Not many available can match the unique skillset of Skjei, along with a young age. Some possible replacements could be former Canes trade deadline pickup, Shayne Gostisbehere. Another strong replacement would be current Florida Panthers defenseman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The priority is keeping Skjei but free agency is approaching quickly.