The Hurricanes first line of Eric Staal, Jiri Tlusty, and Alexander Semin was one of the most lethal lines in the league last season. There is little doubt they will make every effort to keep that line together again this coming year.
The second line is still up in the air, but if coach Kirk Muller decides to keep his next best three players of Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Tuomo Ruutu together, that does not leave much scoring experience within the bottom two lines.
Patrick Dwyer had a good season last year, (8G 8A 16 points), and Nathan Gerbe has notched points in bunches earlier in his career, but after that, the Canes have no one with proven success in NHL scoring.
At this time, here is the list of remaining players who will be fighting to fill the bottom six slots:
Elias Lindholm, Riley Nash, Drayson Bowman, Zac Dalpe, Aaron Palushaj, Kevin Westgarth, Jeremy Welsh, Brody Sutter, (Victor Rask), and a few other players who signed two-way deals.
The Hurricanes not only need a proven scorer, but they also need someone with penalty killing experience in this role as well.
Brenden Morrow's name has been tossed out there as a possibility and he could bring what the Canes need. But he earned $4 million last year and is most likely out of Carolina's budget. It's the same story for another top level free agent, Mikhail Grabovski, who is also out of this team's price range.
Who might be a more affordable option?
Brad Boyes had a good year for the Islanders last season, (48 Games- 10G 25A 35P) and he can kill penalties. He's been around a bit, but he's not too old to be effective and is usually a durable player. Last season he signed a $1 million dollar deal for New York, but he is most likely looking for a bit more now.
Daniel Cleary and Mason Raymond are also interesting options, although they earned $3 and $2.275 million last year, respectively.
All of the above players might be out of reach, so don't be surprised if Carolina picks up someone along the lines of Chuck Kobasew, who the organization has liked for a long time. Kobasew teamed up with Eric Staal in Lowell back during the 2004-05 lockout year to help form one of the best one-two scoring punches in the AHL at the time. (The Canes shared the Loch Monsters with the Calgary Flames).
The winger's best scoring days are behind him, but he brings a solid two-way game with him and he can help kill penalties. If the Canes cannot free up some money, he might be a more realistic addition.
We will have much more discussion about this in the coming days.