It’s been a busy offseason for the Carolina Hurricanes as the team has worked hard to improve their roster in hopes of keeping themselves relevant after a impressive playoff run last season. The team has already signed restricted free agent Sebastian Aho after matching the offer sheet he signed with the Montreal Canadiens. The team traded for Erik Haula and signed Ryan Dzingel to a reasonable deal as well. They also brought back goaltender Petr Mrazek to bolster their goaltending.
However, there is one thing still missing from their offseason so far and that’s a decision from veteran forward Justin Williams. News & Observer’s Luke DeCock writes that while Williams is still trying to decide whether he will return for a 19th season. The 37-year-old was still quite productive last season, putting up 23 goals and 53 points. However, he wants time before committing for another season.
DeCock writes that the expectation among the team is that Williams will return, but at the same time, no one really knows what he will do. However, Williams return could make a huge difference to their fortunes next season. While the team likely doesn’t need him to be a top-six scorer anymore, the team needs his leadership and abilities as he would get a simpler role as a bottom-six option.
- The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor (subscription required) analyzes the recent play of Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who has seen his role as a top-line forward change. The 29-year-old has moved to the second line and is starting to see a change in his long-time role, according to O’Connor, who writes that the veteran is no longer a play-driver like he has been in previous years. Since signing his eight-year, $66MM deal back in 2015, he’s hasn’t put up peak numbers with the exception of his 2017-18 season in which he put up 20 goals and 85 points. While he once was a player who could lead a pair of rookies on his line, the belief is that he is no longer that player. While still a solid middle-six option, it looks like Voracek is entering a new phase in his career even though he has five more years at $8.25MM AAV.
- The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman (subscription required) writes the New York Rangers must make a decision on what they want to do with Chris Kreider. The 28-year-old forward is in the final year of his contract and should acquire a significant raise from his $4.63MM AAV this season. Goldman writes that while the team technically could wait to make a decision on whether they want to re-sign Kreider until the trade deadline next year, waiting that long could have its own problems. With Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Kappo Kaako and Vitali Kravtsov expected to join their lineup this season, the team could challenge for a playoff spot, which might make it difficult for the Rangers to trade off Kreider and then the team could conceivably lose him for nothing if they don’t intend to bring him back. With rumors that it might cost New York seven years at $7.3MM per season, the team has to make a big decision soon.