Piggybacking off our potential free agent target series, we decided to take a look at some new faces who just joined the unrestricted free agency world. Today we will look at a few potential targets for the Carolina Hurricanes who went unqualified by their respective teams making them UFA’s as of July 1st.
- Age – 26
- NHL Seasons - 5
- 2017-18 stats– 39 GP, 14-13-6, 3.03 GAA, .902 SV%, 4 Shutouts
- Career stats – 183 GP, 78-64-23, 2.66 GAA, .911 SV%, 14 Shutouts
- Previous Contract – 2 years, $4.0 Mil AAV
Petr Mrazek was once considered the goalie of the future in Detroit leading the team to the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. From that point on, his career has taken a drastic turn for the worse. But then Brian Elliott suffered an injury for the Philadelphia Flyers and they took a shot by trading for Mrazek this February in hopes that he could lead the team to a deep playoff run. He won his first three starts as a Flyer, but then failed to grab the reins from there, ultimatley becoming the backup when Elliott returned.
Mrazek is in need of a fresh start. He had two very good seasons in Detroit and showed lots of promise. With the Hurricanes needing a goalie and the goalie market being weak to say the least, one has to think the Canes will at least look at Mrazek. He could come in and create a 1A/1B scenario with Scott Darling at a cheap price. The hope being he finds his mojo from Motown and could run away with the starter!s job.
- Age – 26
- NHL Seasons - 6
- 2017-18 stats– 53 GP, 14-26-9, 3.01 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 Shutouts
- Career stats – 219 GP, 72-97-35, 2.82 GAA, .915 SV%, 8 Shutouts
- Previous Contract – 3 years, $2.25 Mil AAV
Much like Mrazek, Robin Lehner has faced his fair share of troubles recently. Much of that may be attributed, however, to the fact that he has played on an abysmal Sabres team for the past three seasons. He had to play behind a defense that was horrible and never got a fair opportunity with a good team in Buffalo.
He is in need of a fresh start somewhere else as well and he will get the opportunity to play in a 1B or backup role somewhere. The former second round pick may be heading in to his last chance to prove himself as a NHL goalie so he will have something to play for. The Canes may be interested with the market being tough for goalies. Signing Lehner could give the Canes the largest goaltending tandem in the league since Lehner is 6’4” 245lbs and Scott Darling is 6’6” 232. Whether that would be good or not is for you to decide.
- Shoots: Left
- Age – 22
- NHL Seasons - 4
- 2017-18 stats– 56 GP, 11 G, 12 A, 23 Points
- Career stats – 213 GP, 37 G, 52 A, 89 Points
- Previous Contract – 1 year, $1.2 Mil AAV
Once a very promising prospect in Arizona, Anthony Duclair has struggled to find the scoring prowess that he showed in 2015-2016. Putting up a total of 22 points in 11 games since then, Duclair was often a healthy scratch in Chicago this past season after his trade from the Coyotes.
He is still very young and finding the right coach could potentially resurrect Duclair’s career. This is where the Canes could get in on Duclair as it’s hard to envision any coach pushing players harder than Rod Brind’Amour will. On a league minimum deal where he has to prove himself in camp, Duclair provides a low-risk, high-reward option should the Hurricanes be interested.
- Shoots: Right
- Age – 26
- NHL Seasons – 6
- 2017-18 stats– 75 GP, 7 G, 9 A, 16 Points
- Career stats – 341 GP, 40 G, 53 A, 93 Points
- Previous Contract – 1 year, $650K AAV
Devante Smith-Pelly made his NHL debut back in the 2011-2012 season with the Anaheim Ducks but many had no idea who he was until this season. Smith-Pelly made national news this year for his response to racial slurs being used against him in Chicago. He then became a household name during the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup run because he scored seven goals and was playing top line minutes alongside Alex Ovechkin at one point.
It is said Washington did not tender Smith-Pelly because they were afraid of arbitration going against them and locking them into an overpriced contract; they still want to bring “DSP”, as the fans call him, back. Meanwhile, Smith-Pelly may test the market, and could be a good bottom six guy for the Hurricanes who could use some more physical players. He will certainly get a raise after his playoff performance, but just how much of one will determine if the Canes are even interested at all.
- Shoots: Left
- Age – 24
- NHL Seasons - 6
- 2017-18 stats– 58 GP, 9 G, 7A, 16 Points
- Career stats – 350 GP, 62 G, 74 A, 136 Points
- Previous Contract – 1 year, $875K AAV
Drafted 1st overall in the 2012 draft, Nail Yakupov has become everything Hurricanes fans hope Andrei Svechnikov never is: a bust. The young Russian forward has never found a scoring touch in the NHL and many suspect he will go back to the KHL after being non tendered by the Avalanche.
The idea of playing alongside Svechnikov and possibly Valentin Zykov could interest Yakupov, and if he would be willing to take a 1 year deal at the league minimum the Canes may be interested. Much like Duclair, Yakupov is a low-risk, high-reward player who could one day live up to the promise of being the first overall selection.
All of the players listed above are hitting unrestricted free agency for a reason and that is mostly because they have never lived up to their potential. But the potential is still there for all of them. With the right team and right coaches, any of these players could yet become stars.
Will the Hurricanes be interested in any of them? Who would interest you? Drop us a comment below and let us know what you think about the possibilities.