Free agent frenzy starts in two days and many teams will be looking to add missing pieces which could help propel them to higher success next year. The Carolina Hurricanes are still in need of a top six forward and Ron Francis has confirmed that he is still searching for such, in recent interviews.
The Canes are in the enviable position of having tons of cap space, but even though they could sign about any single free agent they wanted to, do not expect them to open up the purse strings on Friday.
The Carolina general manager has stated several times that he will only sign a player if it "makes sense" and I interpret that as meaning that they will not do a long term, (5 years or longer) contract.
Most of the "A level" free agents are going to want long term deals. I think we can rule out the likes of Steven Stamkos, Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic, Loui Eriksson, David Backes, and most likely Andrew Ladd. My feeling is that the organization is just not going to get tied up long term with anyone right now.
I anticipate that Francis will be trying to sign one of the "B level" guys, someone who can hopefully rack up some points but who will accept a two to three year deal. The Hurricanes can certainly pay a bit higher per year if they need to, if the player can be flexible regarding a shorter term.
By the way, apparently one of those players will not be named Eric Staal. Chip Alexander posted on Twitter earlier today that he spoke with Francis and the GM said the two sides have not been in contact. Francis "wishes him well."
So who is out there that can help the Canes and who might accept the shorter term? Let's take a look at few possibilities. The following list is not in any particular order.
(I am going to skip defensemen again, since just like the draft Francis will most assuredly never choose a defenseman here.)
Frans Nielsen -
While Kyle Okposo is the former Islander most teams will be courting, Nielsen would be a very nice addition to any team. He had 20 goals and 52 points last season and plays all forward positions well. It will be very surprising if the Islanders allow both of these guys to walk because the club would most assuredly regress in the standings without replacing them.
Jiri Hudler -
The 32-year-old took a step back last season after scoring 31 goals for Calgary two seasons ago but he still has offensive jam and can put up points. Last season he had 16 goals and 30 assists in split time between the Flames and Panthers.
Darren Helm -
Helm still has a lot of speed and can be counted on for double-digit scoring but will that be enough to tempt the Hurricanes? He is not a legit top six guy but might work as a third line center if they cannot get anyone else better. Last season he put up 13 goals and 13 assists in 77 games for Detroit.
Teddy Purcell -
Here is another guy who might work as a top nine asset if they cannot land a top six. The Oilers traded him to the Panthers last season at the deadline and he chipped in with three goals and 11 assists in 19 games. For the season he had 14 goals and 19 assists.
P.A. Parenteau -
The former Leaf chipped in with 20 goals and 21 assists last season in 77 games which is a bit higher than his career average. The Canes do not want to over-pay for this 33-year-old based on last year's production alone, but he does have offensive talent.
Mikkel Boedker -
Here is a player who seems like he should have more points than he does. Boedker has spent most of his career with Arizona and might be able to score more with the right linemates. After he was traded to the Avs last season, he scored four goals and had eight assists in 18 games. Overall he had 17 goals and 34 assists on the season. He has speed and would be a good addition, so he will garner attention around the league. The Canes should be willing to spend a bit more here if they need to, although he might be looking for a longer term.
Troy Brouwer -
Brouwer seems older than 30 and has been around the league a bit already, but he was arguably one of the better players for the Blues in the playoffs last year. He plays with a bit of grit which would be welcome in Carolina but might be closer to a top nine guy than a top six. He had 18 goals and 21 assists then added another 13 points in the postseason last year. His lack of speed could be an issue with him keeping up with this younger team.
Kris Versteeg -
Versteeg is another player who is just 30 but seems to have been around the league longer. He had good moments and bad for the Canes last year, (including being healthy scratched), but seemed to be well liked in the room. The winger has had multiple 20-goal seasons but not since 2011-12. Last year he notched 11 goals and 22 assists in 63 games for Carolina before being traded at the deadline to the Kings. He might be on Francis's list, although hopefully not at the top of it.
David Perron -
Perron is a player who is a bit inconsistent but he has had scoring success in the NHL. At only 28-years-old, he started out in St. Louis, was traded to the Oilers, then to the Pens, and most recently to the Ducks. Last year he totaled 12 goals and 24 assists and the year before that 17 goals and 24 assists. His first season with Edmonton in 2013-14, he notched 29 goals and 28 assists.
On Friday, we will be running a discussion thread all day and we will see if the Hurricanes make a move.