With the 2019-20 season officially over and the start of the 2020-21 season quickly approaching, the Carolina Hurricanes have some decisions to make and some contracts to negotiate with internal players hitting free agency.
While most of the big-time internal free agents come from the Canes’ blue line, there are a few guys in the forward group and goaltender corps that need new contracts. Here’s a breakdown of the Canes’ three internal free agents that aren’t arbitration eligible among the forwards and goaltenders.
Warren Foegele, Left Wing, Restricted Free Agent
2019-20 Stats: 68 GP, 13 G, 17 A, 30 Pts, 13:43 ATOI
Career Stats: 147 GP, 25 G, 23 A, 48 Pts, 13:03 ATOI
Career Playoff Stats: 23 GP, 6 G, 4 A, 10 Pts, 13:57 ATOI
A consistent piece of the Hurricanes’ lineup for the past two seasons, Foegele is a restricted free agent in the 2020 offseason. After a solid 15-point rookie campaign in 2018-19, that was capped by a fantastic playoff performance, Foegele continued taking strides forward in 2019-20, reaching 30 points before the season was shut down.
Foegele has been a productive depth piece for Carolina throughout his two full years in Raleigh, spending time on the lower two lines while showing he has what it takes to fill in on the top two when needed. Carolina fans who like the way that Foegele plays should feel comfortable about the 24-year old left winger returning to Raleigh, as GM Don Waddell was fairly confident last week in the team’s ability to re-sign Foegele.
“We’ll get them done,” said Waddell, referencing the contacts of RFAs Foegele and Haydn Fleury. “There are not too many negotiations that I ever say are not too much trouble because they hire representation to get as much money as they can and we’re trying to pay them what their value is to our hockey club, but I fully expect both to get done. It might take a little longer on one of them, but in time we’ll get them both done.”
Waddell is confident that Foegele will be playing his home games in PNC Arena next season, and there’s little reason to doubt that confidence. The money for Foegele will be decent, not great, and contract length will likely be short. Expect somewhere in the two or three year range, with an AAV anywhere from $1.5 million to $2.5 million.
Justin Williams, Right Wing, Unrestricted Free Agent
2019-20 Stats: 20 GP, 8 G, 3 A, 11 Pts, 13:37 ATOI
Career Stats: 1,264 GP, 320 G, 477 A, 797 Pts, 16:53 ATOI
Career Playoff Stats: 162 GP, 41 G, 61 A, 102 Pts, 17:45 ATOI
This one is less a question of whether or not Williams will be back with the Canes next year, and more a question of whether or not Williams will be back in the NHL next year. The 38-year old, 19-season NHL veteran signed a one-year deal with the Hurricanes in the middle of the 2019-20 season, electing to come back to Raleigh for the home stretch of the regular season and the playoffs (though that schedule got altered).
When asked about Williams’ status last week, both Waddell and head coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t give out too much information on where the veteran winger stands. Williams could very easily call it quits and retire this offseason, but he also could be back for one more year, which would almost certainly be with the Canes in Raleigh.
If Williams is to re-sign with Carolina, it will be a one-year deal. His 2019-20 contract was worth just $700,000, though there were numerous bonuses and he did join the team midway through the season. If Williams signs with a one-year deal to come back for 2020-21, expect it to be north of $2 million.
Anton Forsberg, Goaltender, Unrestricted Free Agent
2019-20 NHL Stats: 3 GP, 1-1, 8 GA, 70 SV, .897 SV%, 3.35 GAA
2019-20 AHL Stats: 27 GP, 15-9-2, 77 GA, 733 SV, .905 SV%, 2.95 GAA
Career NHL Stats: 48 GP, 12-25-4, 126 GAA, 1,146 SV, .901 SV%, 3.22 GAA
The Hurricanes signed Forsberg to a one-year, $775,000 contract after acquiring him from Chicago in the Calvin de Haan trade heading into 2019-20, where the goaltender with one full NHL season under his belt spent almost all of his year in Charlotte playing with the Checkers.
Forsberg got into three games with the Hurricanes following injuries to Petr Mrazek and James Reimer in the same game (the David Ayres experience), and he wasn’t particularly great. He got pulled early from a game, and gave up eight goals in just three appearances.
Forsberg was never meant to be one of the Canes’ two NHL goalies heading into the 2019-20 season, and if Carolina were to re-sign him for 2020-21 it would be to keep him in the AHL again, with Mrazek and Reimer back.
There’s a good chance the Canes just let Forsberg go, with Alex Nedeljkovic still under contract and Callum Booth a restricted free agent that has yet to reach the NHL. Wherever Forsberg goes, it will be for a very similar contract to the one he signed with Carolina last offseason.