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March 22, 2012 | 10:10am ET
Hurricanes ready to leap into contending status

The Carolina Hurricanes are expected to be strong bidders for pending unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which was first reported last night on TSN's Insider Trading segment.

The Canes believe that they are close to becoming a Stanley Cup contender and are looking to add a star winger to play alongside captain Eric Staal and would also consider a top defenseman.

Assuming both players become unrestricted free agents comes July 1; the Hurricanes are likely to go hard for Parise of the New Jersey Devils and are also expected to have significant interest in Suter of the Nashville Predators.

The Canes' plan to potentially acquire this year's top two UFAs might surprise many who would deem the organization as a budget team, however, ownership is on board for the right additions.

Meanwhile, another top UFA could be targeted by the Hurricanes, as Anaheim Ducks second-round pick Justin Schultz has yet to agree to join the Ducks' lineup after his season ended with the University of Wisconsin.

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the fact that Schultz hasn't picked the option to sign with the Ducks most likely mean that the 21-year-old defenseman has chosen unrestricted free agency and could be added to the list of players the Hurricanes will attempt to sign in the summer.

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