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Free Agent Spotlight: A Big Offseason could Mean Big Turnover Among Hurricanes’ Free Agents

Jay McClement, Derek Ryan, and Matt Tennyson are all pending unrestricted free agents, and there is a chance that they’ve all played their final game in Carolina.

Derek Ryan broke into the league this past season, but his future with the Hurricanes should be in question.
Jamie Kellner

This offseason will be big for Ron Francis. It will present him with his first big summer where he has fair reason to go out and make a big splash. He has the young, developing core, he has a situated top-four on defense, and now he has his starting goalie in Scott Darling.

Before those potential big splashes, be it trades or free agent acquisitions, there are in-house decisions to be made with unrestricted free agents Jay McClement, Derek Ryan, and Matt Tennyson.

Jamie Kellner

Jay McClement Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 34
  • 2016-17 Season: 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points in 65 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 45.36% Corsi for, 97.25 PDO, 35.14% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $1,100,000
  • Contract Ending: Two years, $2.4 million, $1.2 million AAV, signed March 1, 2015 (extension)

Jay McClement just finished his third season with the organization, posting his worst offensive numbers, faceoff success rate, and possession stats in the process. He seems destined to hit the open market this summer, but his luck there is very much up in the air.

His time in Carolina is likely over. He has seen his play worsen throughout his three years with the team and his role as a fourth-line center will be better suited for an in-house player like Lucas Wallmark or a different player outside of the organization.

Beyond Carolina, McClement may have trouble finding a role on any team. It’s hard to be impressed by his performance, especially in a league that is transitioning toward fourth lines playing more like two-way third lines. McClement just doesn’t have the offensive upside that most teams would desire out of a bottom-six center, and his possession numbers at even strength don’t do him any favors either.

Where he performed the best was on Carolina’s near-best penalty kill last season, but that can more so be attributed to guys like Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, and Jordan Staal, among others.

Jamie Kellner

Derek Ryan Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 30
  • 2016-17 Season: 11 goals, 18 assists, 29 points in 67 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 50.48 Corsi for, 99.23 PDO, 46.55% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $600,000
  • Contract Ending: One year, Two-way, $600,000 ($350,000 in AHL), $600,000 AAV, signed June 16, 2016 (extension)

A breakout year from Derek Ryan has brought more questions than answers as the now 30-year-old looks poised to hit the open market on July 1.

Ryan started the year in Charlotte, dominated that league for a month, and then got called up to the NHL team with linemate Brock McGinn and fellow pending UFA Matt Tennyson on November 12.

The journeyman went on to tally nearly a half point per game, spending a lot of time with Jeff Skinner and on the man advantage. He was good in that role, but there should still be question marks with him.

Can he be a third-line center? He doesn't have the size that a player in that role typically possesses, but he does have the offensive skill and he’s dominant in the faceoff circle. He also posted good possession numbers last season and played his way onto Carolina’s penalty kill at times.

The numbers suggest that he can handle a third-line role as a centerman, but at times he didn’t pass that “eye test”.

He reminds me of Edmonton’s Mark Letestu. He’s great on the powerplay and he can gel very well with a couple of players.

The question is, how well will he play away from Skinner? It’s hard to envision that the long-term plan is to have Ryan and Skinner as a duo, so if Ryan’s numbers get worse away from Skinner, he’s likely not going to be a third-line-quality center.

It’s also fair to factor in that centers Lucas Wallmark, Aleksi Saarela, and Warren Foegele could all be on the brink of making that NHL jump

It seems likely that Ryan will hit the open market and see what his value is and if he can get a good one-way deal somewhere. He’s at least proven that he can play in the NHL for an extended period of time, but looking into other 3C options would be a smart move by Ron Francis if he thinks next year’s club can be a playoff team.

Jamie Kellner

Matt Tennyson Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 27
  • 2016-17 Season: 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points in 45 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 47.33% Corsi for, 96.48 PDO, 37.25 goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $675,000
  • Contract Ending: One-year, Two-way, $675,000 ($275,000 in AHL), $675,000 AAV, signed July 3, 2016 (UFA)

Matt Tennyson was brought in as a sixth/seventh defenseman over the offseason, and the results weren’t great.

Playing in over half of the team’s games, he put up six points and was an inconsistent player in his own end. As the season went on, it was clear that Klas Dahlbeck was a better fit in Carolina’s lineup, so Tennyson saw a lot of the press box in the second half before Ryan Murphy went down with an injury.

Tennyson’s time in Carolina is likely over, especially after Dahlbeck’s extension. He serves no purpose for Carolina in the expansion draft and he wasn’t a real asset on the ice.

He’ll be looking for a new team in July.