The Carolina Hurricanes solidified their situation down the middle with the addition of veteran center Paul Stastny on a one-year, $1.5MM deal. With the departure of Vincent Trocheck to the New York Rangers, the Hurricanes’ center corps is relatively unsettled. Armed with an eight-year, $4.82MM AAV contract, 2018 third-overall pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi will likely receive the first crack at replacing Trocheck as the Hurricanes’ second-line center. But if Kotkaniemi struggles in that role, look for Stastny to fill in and provide his usual steady production. With that possibility in mind, it seems this Stastny signing, while for a relatively cheap cap number, is actually quite important to the Hurricanes’ success next season.
It appears that Stastny understands that reality as well. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports on his 32 Thoughts Podcast that Stastny “took less money” than he was being offered from elsewhere in order to sign in Carolina. One possible suitor for Stastny that was presumably offering more money that Friedman specifically names is the Vegas Golden Knights. Stastny’s fit with the Golden Knights is less obvious, as the team already has Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, and Nicolas Roy entrenched as the top-three centers, and Chandler Stephenson waiting in the wings to play center in case of an injury. So, based on this reporting, it seems Stastny prioritized fit over maximizing his contract’s value as a free agent, which indicates how important he could be to the Hurricanes if Kotkaniemi fails to take a step forward in his development.
Now, for some other notes regarding offseason news across hockey:
- Former Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock resigned today from his post as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan’s men’s hockey team. Babcock, who last coached in the NHL in 2019-20 and was once considered one of the top coaches in the game, spent a season under the helm for the Huskies and went 14-9. Babcock’s name last surfaced in the mix for NHL jobs in 2020, when he reportedly interviewed for the then-vacant Washington Capitals head coaching job.
- The Seattle Kraken announced some notable additions to their hockey operations staff today, hiring former San Jose Sharks head of amateur scouting Doug Wilson Jr. as an amateur scout, and former NHLer Frans Nielsen as a player development consultant. The Kraken are loaded with picks for the 2023 draft class, so adding an experienced scout like Wilson will only help in their efforts to build a contender. Additionally, Nielsen brings nearly 1,000 NHL games of experience to the Kraken’s development team and should especially help with their crop of young centers headlined by Shane Wright and Matthew Beniers.