With the phasing out of a lot of Hurricane players, that leaves room for new additions. Through promotion in the minors, unrestricted free agents and trades, Carolina has a lot of potential to either add new talent to its roster or fill the holes that are left.
Who could be coming in?
Nedeljkovic is the Hurricanes goaltender of the future. Calder Cup Champion, AHL goaltender of the year, best stickhandler in the AHL and a goal scorer to boot, Ned's accolades and projections paint him as a potential top goaltender in the NHL, and he has been allowed to develop properly. Ned is ready, and now it’s time to see if the hype can hold up.
One of the Hurricanes' first-round picks in 2016, Bean was a top prospect in the WHL, and his game has truly translated to the AHL. A power-play quarterback and elite puck mover, Bean is ready to move his game to an NHL blueline. Also a left-handed defenseman, there is room on the Canes roster if one of the righties is moved out.
Fleury dominated the AHL playoffs. The contrast between his game in the NHL during his call-ups and the Calder Cup playoffs this year was crazy. Fleury was a bully in the playoffs. Knocking players off the puck and dancing around defenders, Fleury was astonishing. This could be the confidence boost Fleury needed, and if he can get playing time, he could really be a strong presence on the ice.
Another former first-rounder, Necas’ time in the AHL and with the former Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci has improved his all-around game dramatically. An elite playmaker, Necas still falls when taking a one-timer, but his skills are elite. His play in the Calder Cup helped the Checkers edge out the competition, and he is primed to be a number-two center. He could benefit from another half a season in the AHL, but he can play opening night if the coaching staff feels he is ready.
Who is in?
One of the two parts of the package from Chicago, Forsling has played about half a season with the upper club in each of his last two seasons. The Hurricanes likely won’t see Forsling anytime soon as he is way down the depth chart, but he can help stem the losses of Fleury and Bean in Charlotte.
The other piece from Chicago, Forsberg started 30 games for the Blackhawks in the 2017-218 season, and the numbers aren’t great. Keeping in mind that Chicago had a bunch of goaltenders coming and going and have suffered a huge decline in talent on the blueline, his save percentage is only a few thousandths of a percentile different than Mrazek and McElhinney’s numbers from last season. He could honestly compete for the job, as the current candidacy is empty, but the Canes have been burned by a Chicago backup before.
Haula is a talented middle-six center who will be coming off a major knee injury. Haula missed most of the 2018-2019 season after sustaining the injury in early November; however, the season before, Haula was one goal short of the 30-goal mark, finishing the season with 29 goals and 55 points. Haula is a risk for sure, but adding another talented Finn to the roster could be a huge boost to the team's offense.
Unrestricted Free Agents
The Canes need a goalie more than anything this offseason if both Mrazek and McElhinney are leaving, and it seems that Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders are hard-balling Lehner. The belief is that the Islanders are still in contention for the top UFA goaltender, Sergei Bobrovski, and that Lehner has been more on the backburner. If terms go sour and the Canes can sweep in, then Lehner may make a lot of sense for Carolina.
The Hurricanes do need goaltending if they lose the tandem, but this year's goaltender UFA pool is not ideal. A lot of refurbished and rearranged goaltenders highlight the stock this year, and a name that has been thrown around a lot is Mike Smith. Smith was a decent goaltender in Arizona and has had less-than-stellar numbers in Calgary. At 37, Smith is a huge question mark, but if the Canes can’t secure another goaltender, they will need to take what they can get.
Rumors surfaced during the draft that the Winnipeg Jets had offered Ehlers in exchange for Brett Pesce, which obviously the team rejected. Ehlers is a top-six forward who has put up some great numbers, and if the Canes could put together a lucrative package with another defenseman, Winnipeg may cycle back to it with the loss of Jacob Trouba and potentially Tyler Myers.
Puljujarvi was a fourth overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft but has yet to truly prove himself on a struggling Edmonton Oilers team. Reduced playing time, poor linemates and now hip surgery, Puljujarvi’s time in Edmonton has not been good, and he has made it clear along with his agent that he does not wish to return to Edmonton and has requested a trade. The new general manager of the Oilers, Ken Holland, has stated that he won’t be trading him for nothing, but if Puljujarvi is serious, Holland would be wise to at least get something. The Hurricanes shouldn’t offer much, but Puljujarvi may prove to be a capable player on a better team.
Restricted Free Agents
There won’t be any offer sheets coming from Carolina’s front office, nor will any RFAs in Carolina be leaving by offer sheet.