The Carolina Hurricanes have already made some noise this off-season, acquiring Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and Adam Fox from the Calgary Flames for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, but what else the team plans to do this summer remains a mystery. In speaking with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer, GM Don Waddell indicates that they may simply stick with the status quo for now. Waddell confirmed that the team is not pursuing contracts with pending unrestricted free agents Cam Ward, Derek Ryan, and Lee Stempniak and expect all three to hit the open market on July 1st. Ward, the Hurricane’s long-time goalie, is rumored to be headed to the Chicago Blackhawks, while Ryan is expected to re-join former Carolina coach Bill Peters and his recently-traded teammates in Calgary. Stempniak’s name has not drawn much attention so far this off-season, as the veteran struggled in 2017-18 with nine points in 37 games. Waddell did not discuss recently non-qualified free agent forward Joakim Nordstrom, likely implying that they are moving on from him as well. Waddell also did not offer any updates on negotiations with restricted free agents Trevor van Riemsdyk, Lucas Wallmark, and Valentin Zykov.
- Waddell did state that the team has no plans to move goalie Scott Darling and are committed to having him on the roster moving forward. The 29-year-old struggled in his first year with Carolina after signing a long-term contract last summer, but the team hopes that his second season as a starter will go smoother. However, Carolina is looking to add a goalie in free agency and have spoken to upwards of six candidates already. The question remains what type of goalie they are looking to bring in. A starter to compete with Darling could look like Robin Lehner, Kari Lehtonen, or Jaroslav Halak, while a steady backup could be Ondrej Pavelec, Chad Johnson, or a reunion with Anton Khudobin.
- As of now, there is no imminent trade involving forward Jeff Skinner. Skinner’s name has been one of the hottest on the rumor mill and many speculated that the Los Angeles Kings signing Ilya Kovalchuk could be the domino that would lead Skinner to being dealt to a team that missed out on the sharp-shooting veteran. Instead, Waddell says that talks with other teams have been ongoing and they have seen some good offers, but haven’t been “comfortable” with accepting any of them. One has to wonder that if they could pull off a trade as big as the one during draft weekend but aren’t comfortable with “good” offers for Skinner, if they are even looking to trade the talented winger at all.
- For any ’Canes fans out there still holding out hope that Carolina was a secret seventh team in on the John Tavares sweepstakes, Waddell confirmed that he has had no contact whatsoever with Tavares’ camp. The Hurricanes do have more than enough cap space to add a Tavares though, so perhaps Waddell will be active in free agency after all, but focused on other big names.