At least on social media, the swirling fires on NHL free agency eve had to do with reports that the Hurricanes could make offers to Tony DeAngelo and Jake Virtanen, both of whom come loaded with issues. I voted ‘no’ on Tony DeAngelo on Twitter but will save any detailed thoughts on either player for if something actually happens.
The other biggest news is that lack of news on the Dougie Hamilton front. It looks like he will officially become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. I do not have any inside scoop on his situation, but my best guess is that the does have an offer or two that are from teams that need to lead with a bunch of money to get attention. New Jersey and Montreal both make sense, but there could be any number of other bidders. I think the lack of anything definitive today could suggest that Hamilton still has a preference to re-sign with the Hurricanes but that the gap in the offers is too big. Especially with Waddell’s comments a couple days earlier that the two sides seemed to still be negotiating, it seems reasonable that the quiet could be Hamilton giving his agent time to try to get more from the Hurricanes before making a difficult choice. I am on record as saying that the mostly likely time for Hamilton to sign with the Hurricanes would have been over the weekend, so I am not overly optimistic at this point. Per more detailed thoughts awhile back, I am mostly okay with letting Hamilton depart if it takes a max offer for term and salary. But the challenge is how to replace him. The free agent defensemen who are available this off-season are ‘meh’ which could leave the Hurricanes trying to pull off a trade or two.
I do not think the Hurricanes are automatically doomed if they do not re-sign Hamilton, but I think the path to building a good team without him is a challenging one.
After adding Jonathan Bernier’s rights via the Alex Nedeljkovic trade, DonWaddell said that the team would be negotiating with both Bernier and Petr Mrazek. Since then the Hurricanes have been mentioned as possible suitors for Darcy Kuemper via trade or Frederik Andersen via free agency. Meanwhile, Toronto has been mentioned as a possible destination for Mrazek.
I think Mrazek and Andersen swapping teams and both being healthy in 2021-22 could be a fascinating ‘how much does goaltending matter’ case study. In an article last week, I built a list of players who on bad teams who could potentially have upside with a change of scenery and a better supporting cast. I included Andersen in that not because Toronto is a bad team but because I think they have bee sub-par defensively during Andersen’s time there. With Mrazek looking pretty good in recent years other than being injured and Andersen trending downward, could it just be their situations? I think that is at least a possibility, and though I do not have Andersen near the top of my list, I would be really curious to see how he looks with a better defense in front of him and less pressure.
In general, I still think John Gibson is the guy, but who knows if he is even available. I like Kuemper. And just generally, I am okay with building another tandem of decent, even if unexciting veterans. The issue is that adding new goalies can be a bit of a dice roll. Recent returns maybe suggest this is easy based on results from Mrazek, McElhinney and Reimer, but one need go back only a couple more years to find Lack and Darling.
I would expect the Hurricanes to hold on anything more than depth moves until they get some idea what the situation is with Hamilton/his defense slot, at least one goalie and maybe Svechnikov’s next deal. The team will be close enough to the salary cap ceiling that spending on secondary needs early has the potential to create problems with the higher priorities mentioned above.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What do you think the probability is that Dougie Hamilton re-signs with the Hurricanes?
2) If you could pick two goalies within reason, who would they be?
3) What are your predictions for day one of free agency both in terms of adding players but also re-signing or losing Hamilton, McGinn, Martinook, Mrazek, Hakanpaa and others?