The Carolina Hurricanes have a handful of free agents to consider re-signing, both restricted and unrestricted and among them is current RFA Warren Foegele, who’s time with the team may rapidly be coming to an end.
According to Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, in his latest “31 Thoughts” blog, “Both player and team appear to want a change,” and Foegele also appeared at number 17 on Frank Seravalli’s “Seravalli Trade Targets.”
This isn’t to propose that Foegele has to go or that he will go, but it’s important to take a bit more of a look at the situation since the rumors are out there.
Foegele primarily played on the Hurricanes’ bottom-six all season, ranking 10th among Canes forwards in average ice time (14:09) and hasn’t even seen increased usage on the penalty kill where he ranked seventh in average shorthanded ice time (1:02) barely edging out higher-end players like Teuvo Teravainen (1:00) and Martin Necas (0:58).
Even though he has gotten a slight bump in his average ice time each season, his usage rate leaves much to be desired for the 2014 third-round pick and a change of scenery may provide him with the opportunity that he is looking for, especially with no clear path for promotion with Carolina.
Foegele has 35 goals and 68 total points in 200 career NHL games — all at even-strength or shorthanded — and his value is strengthened by his solid underlying numbers.
One of Foegele’s biggest attributes is his ability to drive offense. He is an excellent skater which helps him get to pucks in deep and he has a relentless tenacity about him, able to win puck and board battles.
Along with that, his defensive awareness and ability to read plays helps complement the Canes’ main shutdown line with Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast and is a key part in what makes it so effective.
Foegele does all the little things right — goes to the net, is hard on the forecheck, is defensively responsible, finishes his checks, etc. — and seems so effective on paper, but when it comes to actually getting the puck into the net, Foegele struggles.
So although he is generating chances and looks at a high rate, the finishing touch just isn’t there. Its a confusing, and often frustrating, reality to see that he is doing so much right and when, by all means his play should translate to more production, it just hasn’t.
He’s even had time and opportunity to play up in the lineup with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, but still he couldn’t do much with that.
And without a real playmaking touch, Foegele’s inability to finish has essentially limited him to the energy role and shutdown minutes he’s getting.
From the team’s standpoint, although Foegele is a good piece to have, the money just isn’t there in the flat-cap and results driven world.
His production is solid, but it’s nothing to write home about, and his style of game is what Brind’Amour wants to instill in all of his players, so it isn’t as rare or necessary for the team.
Foegele is also a player who very much suffers from a hot and cold syndrome. The winger has signs of outstanding play yet can also disappear for stretches and it’s only exacerbated by his struggles with finishing.
And outside of a monster playoff performance against the Washington Capitals in 2019, Foegele has not been that effective throughout his playoff career.
So what are the team’s options with Foegele?
The first option is that the Hurricanes decide to tender him a qualifying offer.
Foegele was scheduled to go to arbitration last season, but he and the Canes managed to hammer out a one-year, $2.15 million contract before that date came. As such, he is still an RFA and his qualifying offer would be for that same amount.
However, with Foegele wanting a change of scenery, it is doubtful that he would just sign the QO and it would be the end of it all. If he took the team to arbitration again, it is likely he ends up with more money and the team wouldn’t be able to walk away from any arbitration ruling below $4,538,958 AAV.
Evolving Hockey projects Foegele’s next contract as a four-year, $3.484 million AAV deal, and that’s just way beyond what the Hurricanes are able to afford with their higher-tier players paydays coming up year after year.
It would be great if the Hurricanes and Foegele could find common ground to make a deal work out, but the team can’t expect him to accept less money just because they are in a tighter spot.
If Foegele is actually wanting a change of scenery and the chance to play in an elevated role, there might not be a better situation for him out there than with the Seattle Kraken alongside the general manager that originally selected him.
Ron Francis will have a few options to look at from Carolina including Brady Skjei, Jake Bean, Jesper Fast and of course Foegele.
With limited options for higher-end talent, Foegele would more than likely see an elevated position with the Kraken’s forward group and maybe that could be just what he needs to get to that next level.
Foegele could also be used as part of a deal for Seattle to take another contract from the Hurricanes such as Jake Gardiner’s.
If Seattle opts to pass on Foegele and both parties do want to move on, the next step would be to move him before July 28, when qualifying offers have to be tended to RFAs, else he would become a UFA and can walk for nothing
The Canes will want to at least get something in return for Foegele’s rights and the sooner they get a deal done, the better.
With Foegele being a middle-six winger and it just being for his signing rights, the Canes would more than likely end up with a low pick or a prospect, but anything is better than nothing.
Foegele is a good player to have, but one that the Hurricanes just can’t afford to overpay to keep happy and if he wants a better opportunity he deserves the chance to go find one.
But it will be yet another cap-casualty that the Hurricanes will have to fill this offseason, as the number of blanks on the roster grows. It’s a sad reality for a team that had kept itself mostly intact for three straight seasons, but a necessary one for a team that wants to take that next step.