We’ve talked about most of the upcoming free agents here at Canes Country, but let’s finish off the rest of the unrestricted free agent list before the expansion draft hits.
It’s important to remember not only for these last three, but also for all UFAs, that what the Canes have to offer them is contingent on what both Andrei Svechnikov and Alex Nedeljkovic’s new contracts end up looking like.
With the flat cap still in effect, every dollar is important for maneuvering around the limit and managing to fit all of the Canes’ high-end players within.
So without further ado, here are the last three unrestricted free agents and whether or not the Hurricanes should be looking to bring them back.
Truthfully, there isn’t too much to say about Cedric Paquette.
He was brought in early into the 2021 season for a couple of reasons. He was a recent Stanley Cup champion — winning with Tampa Bay in 2020 — he brought a physical presence and most importantly he cost less than Ryan Dzingel, who he was traded for.
He appeared in 38 regular season games for the Hurricanes, netting three goals and seven points and he did bring that physical edge, finishing third on the team in total hits.
He was defensively sound in his own end — not great, but good enough — but was an offensive black hole, not generating much at all in terms of scoring chances.
He was primarily a healthy scratch in the postseason, where he made little to no impact, playing only four games and notching just one point.
He seemed to be just the right acquisition when he first got to Carolina, but he quickly fell to the wayside with inconsistent play and injuries. He shouldn’t be expected to return as the Canes can easily replace his value with internal pieces that could use the playing time.
Martinook is a heart and soul player and one of the most vocal leaders of this current iteration of the Hurricanes.
Outside of the rink, his infectious attitude and wild spirit quickly won over the fanbase and endeared him to the city while inside it, he made himself into a key figure of Carolina’s locker room and culture resulting in him wearing a letter.
But subsequent injuries and a lack of production has his Carolina career sitting on a precipice.
At $2 million, the Canes just can not afford to pay him with the continued flat cap and the looming contracts they have.
He has both strong defensive and penalty killing results, but the Canes are also getting those results from their higher-end players who provide offense as well, something Martinook hasn’t in the last two seasons.
If he scouts the market, and the offers don’t come flying in, perhaps returning to Raleigh at a discount — around at most a $1.5 million price tag — would be the preferred course of action for him.
The Canes would probably like to be able to keep him around, but only for another short-term deal as eventually Carolina will need the roster spot to start infusing its lineup and bottom-six with its talented up and coming youth.
The Canes acquired Jani Hakanpaa at the 2021 trade deadline at the cost of long-time project Haydn Fleury. It’s not to say that they should re-sign him simply because of that sunk cost, but Hakanpaa proved to be a capable acquisition that could yield more successful results over time.
He’s a big, physical defenseman who skates well and has shown to be defensively sound within his own zone. While not necessarily the type of player Carolina has sought to produce before, a cheap, low-event defenseman could be a welcome addition to the blueline.
Hakanpaa is not useful at all in the offensive zone, and struggled mightily on the penalty kill, but his 5v5 defensive analytics are very promising. He had a fairly strong showing for the Hurricanes and if his cost comes around a slight raise of $1 to $1.3 million, they should be looking to bring him back.
With the potential loss of both Dougie Hamilton and Jake Bean on the horizon, the uncertainty of Jake Gardiner’s injury troubles, and without an obvious successor in the pipeline to replace any of them, Hakanpaa may be just what the Canes need right now to help supplement what may be a depleted blueline.