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Which of the Hurricanes’ UFAs will return?

July 2, 2021, 4:00 PM ET [1 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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With a lot of cap space available but also several players in need of new contracts for next season, the Carolina Hurricanes have an interesting offseason ahead of them.

Aside from key restricted free agents like Andrei Svechnikov, Alex Nedeljkovic and Jake Bean, the Hurricanes will also have to decide on what to do with seven unrestricted free agents who were regular members of their lineup. Here’s a look at those UFAs and predictions on who may be back with the Hurricanes next season.



JANI HAKANPAA

Hakanpaa was acquired by the Hurricanes in their one notable move at the deadline, in exchange for Haydn Fleury. He’s a depth defender who won’t add a lot of offense but is typically very reliable in his own end and adds a physical presence.

I liked how Hakanpaa fit with the Hurricanes and while he didn’t have as large of a role with the Hurricanes as he did in Anaheim, he was fairly effective on the team’s bottom pairing. He’s 29 years old but likely wouldn’t command more than a two-year deal at a fairly low AAV. If the Hurricanes can bring him back at the right price, he could continue to provide solid defensive depth.

Verdict: Could return



DOUGIE HAMILTON

Hamilton is one of the top free agents in the market this year and re-signing him isn’t going to be easy. He posted an excellent 42 points in 55 games and can play in an offensive, top-pairing role.



The defender has been key to the Hurricanes turning things around and you have to imagine that Don Waddell will do what he can to re-sign him ahead of the free agent market opening on July 28. But a potential extension has to come at the right cost and if bringing back Hamilton would leave the Hurricanes with a cap situation that becomes difficult to manage, perhaps Carolina looks for a cheaper replacement.

Hamilton’s extension will be the focus of Carolina’s offseason for the next month but right now, it seems completely up in the air as to whether or not he’ll return to the Hurricanes.

Verdict: Could return



JORDAN MARTINOOK

Martinook is a veteran who I thought the Hurricanes could look to bring back at a low price but after Elliotte Friedman’s note on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, it now seems as though Martinook will be heading to the open market.

He’s filled a bottom-six role with Carolina for the last three years and his game relies quite a bit on work ethic and reliability. However, with Martinook turning 29 years old later this month, the Hurricanes may opt to go with a cheaper depth option, rather than re-signing Martinook.

Verdict: Unlikely to return



BROCK MCGINN

If there’s one UFA forward who I hope the Hurricanes bring back, it’s Brock McGinn. The winger can play anywhere in the lineup, being skilled enough to fill in as a member of the top-six when called upon but playing with the intensity to make him very effective in the bottom-six as well.

McGinn is still just 27 years old, meaning we’re still years away from talking about a potential decline. He posted eight goals and 13 points in 37 games this season and can be counted on for around 25 points per 82 games, providing some solid depth scoring.

The issue with a potential return is whether McGinn could get more in free agency, which is certainly possible. However, if he would take a contract similar to what we saw for Jesper Fast last season – around a $2 million AAV for three years – I’d love to see him back.

Verdict: Could return



PETR MRAZEK

Mrazek has been with the Hurricanes for the last three seasons, acting as the team’s starter for a majority of that stretch. He was injured for a good chunk of the season but did play in 12 regular season games, posting a .923 save percentage with three shutouts.

I definitely wouldn’t be shocked to see either Mrazek or James Reimer return to Carolina in a tandem with Alex Nedeljkovic. It would allow Nedeljkovic to fully take over the starting role, with a familiar veteran behind him in a supporting role.

That said, I’d bet that if one goalie is to return, it won’t be Mrazek. Given his play in a limited sample size this year and his history as a fringe starter, he could get a better deal and larger role elsewhere, rather than behind Nedeljkovic in Carolina.

Verdict: Unlikely to return



CEDRIC PAQUETTE

Paquette was acquired from the Ottawa Senators fairly early in the year and played in a depth role for the Hurricanes. He scored the goals and seven points in 38 games, a pace of seven goals and 15 points per 82 games.

In my opinion, Paquette wasn’t much of a factor for the team and I don’t know that Carolina will be rushing to re-sign him. Perhaps if the Hurricanes lose other UFAs, Paquette could be brought back as a cheap, depth option but I’d bet that the Hurricanes move on and either bring in someone else or make room for some younger talent.

Verdict: Unlikely to return



JAMES REIMER

Even though Reimer was essentially Carolina’s third goalie by the end of the season, I think it’s still possible we could see him back next year. If both Mrazek and Reimer walk away, the Hurricanes will need to find a backup goalie anyways, so why not try to work out a deal with Reimer?

You have to imagine he’d be re-signed to a one or two-year deal at a low price, which works well for Carolina’s cap situation. If Hamilton re-signs, the Hurricanes won’t have much room to add depth in goal so bringing back Reimer could be a decent option.

Even at 33 years old, Reimer can take on a decent workload, though he can be pretty inconsistent. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back for the right price to back up Nedeljkovic next season.

Verdict: Could return



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If you could bring back one UFA (other than Dougie Hamilton), who would it be?
Jani Hakanpaa
Jordan Martinook
Brock McGinn
Petr Mrazek
Cedric Paquette
James Reimer
Created with Quiz Maker


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