The Carolina Hurricanes made their best push through the postseason since 2009 this season, though both ended in the same way: a 4-0 sweep by a team in black and yellow. It’s apparent, then, that although the Hurricanes are better than they have been in the last decade, they still need to improve.
The Canes barely made it into the postseason due to an overachieving Montreal team, and next year a few teams like the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers look prepared to chase a bubble spot again. Therefore, it’s important that the Canes do their best to get better and ice the best team they can.
Who could be out?
Everyone talks about winning or losing trades, but Ferland was a key piece to Carolina’s success in the opening frame of the season. Although injuries quickly derailed his season, Ferland played an important role early. While keeping him obviously helps protects the younger guys from anyone taking runs at them, his asking price is much too high. Reports put his asking price at around $5 million per year for five years at the lowest, and for a tough, grinder-type role, that just can’t hold up. Injuries derailed his season this year, and he is prone to miss more time down the road to other injuries. His price and risk factor are just too high.
McKegg was a great story. Traded from Wilkes Barre Scranton to the Checkers, McKegg eventually found his place on the roster of the Hurricanes after a few injuries. He cemented himself as a reliable fourth-line center and proved to be a key playoff grinder. His production was low though, and he can be replaced by better prospects in the system. Someone will pay him, like Derek Ryan or Joakim Nordstrom, but it shouldn’t be the Canes.
Reports suggest neither part of the goaltending tandem that brought the Canes back to the playoffs had resigned yet and were going to test free agency. McElhinney was one of the best waiver claims in franchise history and has proved to be a cool, calming presence in game. The 36-year-old journeyman goaltender may cycle back to the team, but as of now, it doesn’t look promising.
Mrazek wants to get paid. While many in Carolina may want to see him get paid, he is a huge risk. His career numbers aren’t great, and a long-term contract could turn around to bite the Canes, who still have the price tag of another goaltender weighing them down. The fans loved Mrazek, and he did steal quite a few games for us, but he isn’t an elite goaltender. His numbers are shaky, and his biggest boon was the help of our blueline. He is a risk for long term, but if the Canes can sign for three years, that would be ideal.
Now is where decisions get tough. McGinn was drafted by the Hurricanes in 2012 and has been with the team for a few years now. He is a fan favorite, hard worker and big hitter. He is a great cheap piece for the team that provides what head coach Rod Brind’Amour wants, but the truth is his roster spot can be filled by more talented prospects.
This isn’t a question of whether or not to bring him back, it’s a question of whether he chooses to come back. The 37-year-old new captain of the Canes hasn’t stated whether he intends to return to play for more seasons, but if he does, it is almost guaranteed that he will be playing for Carolina for an estimated two years at $3 million per year.
The longest-tenured Cane, Faulk has played eight years for the club and has gone through many highs and lows. Always on the trade block it seems, Faulk really stepped up his game this year, proving to be reliable on the blueline. His offensive production has slowed but his more reliable defense makes him hard to let go. The truth of the matter is that he has one more year on his contract at $4.833 million, but his extension will be too costly for the Canes. He is currently the fourth-best defenseman on the team, and paying over $5 million to four blueliners is a lot of money tied up. His trade value is high and could bring back a good return, but the Canes shouldn't just trade him for the sake of it, as they could definitely benefit if Faulk wants to show out for his contract year.
Who is out?
Hurricane legend and greatest no. 12 the team has seen since… well… you know. Jokes aside, this was a simple buyout in which the team acquired a first-round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs for essentially $3.833 million in cash and a $6.25 million cap hit.
Calvin de Haan
This departure was a tough one for the Hurricanes fan base to swallow, which is a true testament to how special last year's team was. Even though de Haan was only on the team for a single season, he made an impact as a genuine and sincere player with a strong work ethic and defensive game. The return for de Haan from Chicago was not great, but the truth of the matter was that the de Haan move was a salary dump and moving on from a player who suffered a second major injury in two seasons.
Calder Cup champion with the Checkers, Saarela had not only the hardest shot in the AHL, but a wickedly accurate one at that. One of the Canes' top prospects, Saarela was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in a package deal with de Haan. What might have made this move easier for management was an apparent lack of backchecking and intent by Saarela, which is obviously a no-go for Brind’Amour.
Roy is a true fourth-line center. A big 6’4” centerman, natural penalty killer and short-handed threat, Roy is an amazing forechecker that was vital to the Checkers' hyperaggressive and smothering PK unit. He could easily make the NHL roster of the Vegas Golden Knights out of training camp with the team's current cap hell.