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Hurricanes Restricted Free Agent Contract Predictions

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The Canes have several RFAs to deal with as the offseason begins to kick into high-gear.

Jamie Kellner

As the free agency period rapidly approaches on July 1, the Carolina Hurricanes have a handful of Restricted Free Agents that remain unsigned. The biggest fish in that pond is Sebastian Aho, but there are several pieces that the Canes must lock down as they work to build their roster for the 2019-20 season. Below is a look at what we can expect with these remaining RFAs:

Sebastian Aho

Jamie Kellner

One of the most talked about RFAs in the entire league, Sebastian Aho has been the subject of much discussion as the Canes have failed to get a long term deal done to date. General manager Don Waddell has suggested that he believes that the two camps are not too far apart, but a deal has yet to come together. Waddell has also downplayed the possibility of Aho signing an offer sheet from other teams, as the moment approaches in which that becomes a possibility.

Despite the consternation created by the Aho contract extending from the early discussions that occurred last season until now, the general sense that Aho is set on remaining in Raleigh is probably the most significant insight into how this is likely to play out. While the widely reported offer to Aho has been a full eight-year deal worth $6 million per year, it is likely that some sort of compromise between that offer and what Aho’s camp is seeking will eventually be found. the dollars will most certainly go up, but the real intrigue may be in the term of the contract. My guess is that the Canes hold firm on the term and get their man back.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina for 8-years, $8 million per year


Brock McGinn

Jamie Kellner

In terms of full-time Canes roster members from the 2018-19 postseason run, Brock McGinn is the only other performer for the Canes that remains to be dealt with. McGinn was able to post a decent season, and proved to be durable as he played in all 82 games. His series-winning goal in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals will forever have a place in Hurricanes lore, but I would expect that McGinn will again have a place on the Hurricanes roster as well. While his goal-scoring has not developed to that 20-25 goal plateau that some evaluators believed he was potentially capable of, he has provided a consistent physical presence and been a valuable player as a third line winger.

Even though McGinn is eligible for salary arbitration, expect the Canes to come to terms with McGinn. But, how committed they are to McGinn as a piece of their future may be clear based on the terms provided. I would expect something similar to the contract they provided Jordan Martinook at mid-season.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, three years, $2 million per year


Haydn Fleury

Jamie Kellner

In some sense, the Canes trade of Calvin de Haan earlier this week just one season into a four-year commitment can be seen as a vote of confidence for Haydn Fleury. Playing in just 20 NHL games a season ago, after spending basically the entire previous season with the Canes, Fleury has now seemingly been tapped as a key part of what will likely be the Canes third defensive pairing. 2019-2020 will likely prove to be a pivotal season in Fleury’s career, at least in terms of his relationship with the team who drafted him.

But if you look closer, you will see that the pipeline of defenseman within the system remains chock-full of talent, and his potential replacement as a left-handed shot will be nipping at his heels as Jake Bean continues to press his way towards the NHL. The Canes will most certainly bring Fleury back, but likely in a bit of a “show me” situation for the 23-year-old defenseman.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, one year, $900k


Gustav Forsling

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Just as we say that the Hurricanes are likely to give Haydn Fleury a chance to earn a full-time role once again in Raleigh based on the trade of Calvin de Haan, we also must look at part of the return for de Haan, as Gustav Forsling enters the picture in Carolina after three seasons of part-time duty on the blueline in Chicago.

Forsling, another left shot defenseman, is roughly the same age as Fleury, but Forsling does possess a moderate experience advantage with 122 games at the NHL level to date. The expectation would be that the Canes will look to bring Forsling in on a one-year deal to compete in camp with Fleury for the third-pairing spot, but also as a player they may ultimately be satisfied with slotted in as the healthy scratch in the early going. Depth is never a bad thing, and the Canes hope that is exactly what Forsling can provide.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, one year, $925k


Anton Forsberg

Boston Bruins v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yet another piece from the recent deal with the Blackhawks, Anton Forsberg enters the fray in net, as the Canes are set to potentially lose both of their top two netminders from last season. Forsberg joins what could become a bit of a goalie logjam based on what they do in free agency and in their current negotiations with Petr Mrazek. It is certainly possible that Forsberg is just an insurance policy to have an NHL experienced goalie in the background if the free agency plans fall through, but it is likely more realistic that Forsberg is viewed as a potential swing-player between Raleigh and Charlotte who could realistically serve as a backup to either Mrazek (or another free agent goalie) or Alex Nedeljkovic should that pairing lose a man at some point.

Expect a short-term deal that gives the Canes the ability to keep some experienced goalie depth in the system as they continue to work in free agency and to solve the Scott Darling situation. Forsberg is eligible for arbitration, which can likely be avoided if Forsberg is willing to take a one year pact.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, one year, $900k


Saku Maenalanen

Jamie Kellner

After spending much of the season in Charlotte, Saku Maenalanen eventually made his way to Raleigh and ultimately became a fairly consistent contributor to the Canes fourth line. While his offensive production was certainly not anything that made waves, the consistently responsible work from both he and linemate Greg McKegg provided a serviceable group that allowed Rod Brind’Amour to not turn away in fear each time his bottom group stepped foot on the ice.

Maenalanen was sidelined for a portion of the playoff run due to a hand injury, but it is not expected to be a detriment through the offseason, as he was able to return towards the end of the postseason run. While the Canes may not seek out Maenalanen for a role this coming season, it is certainly possible that he will be considered to return on a one-way deal that would give them the possibility of having him as valuable depth with NHL experience.

Maenalanen is eligible for arbitration, but it would seem unlikely that he would get to that point. Expect a one year pact that has little downside for either party, and plenty of playing time in Charlotte unless injuries require his presence in Raleigh.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, one year, $925k


Clark Bishop

Jamie Kellner

As yet another player that is potentially slated for the shuttle between Charlotte and Raleigh for this coming season, Clark Bishop is in a position where it is possible that he is destined for a potential pull back from the 20 games of NHL action that he experienced this season. Bishop would certainly be a player that could be included as a body in a trade, should that come to fruition in the coming weeks, but otherwise you can expect that he will take on a forward role in Charlotte as that roster experiences the standard AHL churn.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina, one year, $900k


Trevor Carrick

NHL: Preseason-Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With four NHL games spread out over three NHL seasons, Trevor Carrick has been the definition of an “in case of emergency” performer for the Hurricanes. Nevertheless, the left shot defenseman did put together a stellar AHL season, posting 47 points (9 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games played at Charlotte. With the acquisition of Forsling, it would seem that Carrick is again buried on the Canes depth chart and is potentially destined for Charlotte again. That would discount the possibility that Carrick could be considered as a trade piece however.

As a player with five full seasons of professional experience, the soon to be 25-year-old defenseman may be a player that has caught the eye of an opposing scout or two. Although the Canes currently enjoy the wealth of solid depth they have in their system, Carrick could be a candidate to move along to another organization for a legit shot to battle for an NHL roster spot, as he is also arbitration eligible.

Prediction: Trade (likely before signing)


Roland McKeown

Jamie Kellner

Despite being unable to crack the lineup in Raleigh during the 2018-19 NHL season, Roland McKeown remains an intriguing prospect for the Canes. The 23-year-old defenseman posted a solid season in Charlotte as he logged heavy minutes on the blueline. One of the biggest questions is how McKeown views his situation within the Hurricanes organization. Does he see a pathway into the lineup in Raleigh?

With rumors of a Justin Faulk trade swirling around, and the rehabilitating Trevor van Riemsdyk for at least a portion of the early going this fall, McKeown may be in line for his most important NHL camp to date. Expect that the Canes work out a deal with McKeown to keep him in the fold, if only on a short term basis. His concern, as well as the Hurricanes, will be on how he attacks this potential opportunity.

Prediction: Signs with Carolina. one year, $900k