May 18, 2019 | 8:30pm ET
DECISIONS COMING FOR HURRICANES
Forwards Sebastian Aho and Micheal Ferland
The Carolina Hurricanes experienced a very successful season, despite being swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final.
Now, with their off-season set to begin, a number of questions surround the organization.
Hurricanes captain Justin Williams can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 and may contemplate retirement. The Hurricanes would like to have him back, as noted by head coach Rod Brind’Amour, and could work out a one-year agreement to keep the 37-year-old around for at least one more season.
“I know how much he’s put into this and I know there’s only so much gas in the tank,” Brind’Amour recently told the Raleigh News & Observer. “I’m going to make sure he takes a couple of months before he makes a decision.”
One player more likely to depart from the Hurricanes this summer is forward Micheal Ferland, who can also become a UFA.
Ferland’s agent and Hurricanes GM Don Waddell conducted contract negotiations in the season, but those failed to bear fruit. The 27-year-old is expected to test the open market this July, making the chances of him returning to Carolina slim.
The team’s biggest decision may rest with All-Star forward Sebastian Aho, who is set to become a restricted free agent and will command a hefty contract.
Waddell and Aho’s agent discussed a new contract during the season and paused negotiations until the off-season. According to the News & Observer, the two sides could look to model a deal around the one Evgeny Kuznetsov received with the Washington Capitals (eight-years at an AAV of $7.8 million).
Between the pipes, goalie Scott Darling may face a buyout, while the team may only look to re-sign one of pending UFAs Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney.
Given how Mrazek performed down the stretch and into the playoffs, and the fact that he is eight years younger than McElhinney, Waddell may look to keep him around.
The Hurricanes will look to add at least one top-six forward this off-season, either via trade or free agency, and they may focus on adding a centre over a winger.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri peaked Carolina’s interest during the season and the two teams could revisit discussions this summer.
Who ultimately makes these decisions remains to be seen, as the Hurricanes are expected to explore the market for a new full-time General Manager, as Waddell has expressed his desire to bring in a new GM while he remains President of the club.
It’s possible the Hurricanes look to re-examine options with such candidates as Los Angeles Kings AGM Mike Futa, Pittsburgh Penguins AGM Bill Guerin, and New Jersey Devils AGM Tom Fitzgerald.