What if Plan A fails and Erik Cole and Chad LaRose both move on to greener pastures? What are the Canes options? While Jim Rutherford has stated that he would wait until August to start meandering through the free agent pool, he might be better served to act a bit more expeditiously. He will have between four to five million in cash available to him to spend on another player or two, and there are some interesting possibilities out there.
Looking at James Mirtle's complete listing of free agent forwards, we can begin by eliminating several candidates immediately, simply because of cost. There is no that way Hurricanes management will look to acquire Hossa, Gaborik, the Sedins, or other high priced superstars. Even the mid-range guys like Gionta, Cammaleri, Koivu, and Tanguay would be too much.
So, who might be a good fit for the Canes? Here's my two cents-
Mikael Samuelsson- The Swede is a steady performer, averaging 40 points a season for the past four years in the Motor City. He had 19 goals last season and earned a very reasonable 1.2 million. Would he accept a slight raise and a two year contract with the Canes?
Mark Recchi- Many people felt that the one time Hurricane had "wrecked his last ball" at the beginning of last season but the veteran winger had a great year, scoring 61 points in 82 games. He had 10 goals and almost scored a point per game during his time with Boston. He is getting a bit long of tooth, but might be a decent option for one year at under two million. (Last season earned 1.5 million).
Mike Knuble- The winger has got nice size, (6'3), and played in all 82 games for the Flyers last season, scoring 27 goals and 47 points in the process. He earned 2.8 million last year, but the Flyers are under Cap pressure and might not be able to re-sign him. If Rutherford wants to step up to the plate a bit, the Flyers' loss could be the Hurricanes gain.
Jere Lehtinen- Here is an intriguing option. Could Rutherford bring in another under-performing Finn to the Canes and hope for a resurgence? Lehtinen has had an injury plagued last couple of years in Dallas, but the dude still has skill and can score. He earned 4.1 million per year in his previous contract, but might take a one year deal for half of that to prove himself again.
Ville Peltonen- Speaking of Finns, Peltonen has been around awhile, but had a decent season with Florida last year, (12G 19A). He could be an inexpensive option if other options slip away.
P.J. Axelsson- This guy is not going to break any scoring records, but he is a solid two-way player and is dependable. He earned 1.875 million last year, but might take 1.5 now. Not at the top of my list, but one of the guys who could be another unsigned straggler looking for work come August.
Other low cost possibilities- Mike Grier, Chris Neil, Tom Kostopoulos, and Dean McAmmond.