The Carolina Hurricanes could have some tough decisions to make regarding their restricted free agents this summer.
First off, they already have seven forwards under contract for next season. Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, Riley Nash, Patrick Dwyer, and Elias Lindholm are in the fold.
Jiri Tlusty, Nathan Gerbe, Drayson Bowman, and Andrei Loktionov are all roster players from last year, who are restricted free agents not currently under contract.
Zach Boychuk is also a restricted free agent who needs a contract, although he spent much of his time in Charlotte last season. There are others who played for the Checkers as well who also need new deals.
Keep in mind that there are different levels of restricted free agents, depending upon how many years they have in the league. But they are all considered assets of the club and cannot just sign with another team without some type of initial input from Carolina.
This week's question put to the panel is:
Zach Boychuk is also an RFA, what about him?
First up is Cory Lavalette, Editor:
Jiri Tlusty – Even though Tlusty took a pretty big step backwards this year, I still view him as the Canes most important RFA this offseason. He still ended up as the Canes 4th best goal scorer and has proven to be a pretty good complimentary piece in the top 6. He obviously started the season injured and I’m not really sure he was always used properly by the coaching staff. It really seemed like he was the fall guy often when other players were struggling. I think a healthy Tlusty can be a solid top 6 LW, can contribute on both special teams and someone that should put up around 20 to 25 goals a season. I think a 2 year, $4.25 million offer is reasonable and something he would accept.
Andrei Loktionov – Loktionov is a very interesting case. What is this guy? Is he a someone that needs to play in the top 6 or is he a bottom 6 guy that can help out on the PP? While I really like this guy, I think he would be best utilized as a 4th liner that contributes on the PP. He has shown that he can play higher, but I’m not sure if he is a full-time top 6 player. Loktionov on the 4th line & PP unit would help even out the minutes in the lineup and he could always jump up if an in-game injury happens. I think a 1 year, $800 thousand offer should be extended and we can see how he handles his injury and a full year with this team.
Nathan Gerbe – This is a really tough decision for me. Gerbe was pretty good for the Canes last year and he has a strong work ethic. But with Skinner, Tlusty and Lotionov all as left wings and the team needing to get bigger, is there space for the smallest guy in the NHL? Gerbe really is a 3rd liner that can give you some scoring, he tied his career high in goals and assists this past season. But he’s 5’5" and while he gives it his all, he’s never going to be much of a physical force. He’s a good player, but one I would look to move this summer, so the team can get bigger and more physical. Gerbe’s not going to be a hot commodity, but he should find a home somewhere in this league.
Drayson Bowman – The sad, sad thing is that Bowman is Jim Rutherford’s most successful non-first two rounds pick over the past 12 years and that’s still a marginal NHL player. Bowman can cut it in the NHL and tries to do whatever is asked of him, he just doesn’t produce at a consistent level. He’s not overly fast or physical, doesn’t contribute much to either special teams and is wildly streaky. He doesn’t make this team better, doesn’t make them worse, he just fills a roster spot. I think it’s time to let him go, either include him in some trade package or let him find a team that wants him.
Zach Boychuk – I think Boychuk might have finally figured it out, but the problem is that he doesn’t fit on this team. I think the Canes should qualify him with the intention of trading him. I’m not very confident he’s ever going to live up to his 1st round pick status, but I think Boychuk can be a decent 3rd liner on a team that has a little more size than the Canes.
C-Leaguer - Contributor