Originally posted at The Hockey News
Pending UFAs – Manny Malhotra, Radek Dvorak, Joni Pitkanen, Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek, Brett Bellemore, Justin Peters, Mike Murphy, Chris Terry
Pending RFAs - Aaron Palushaj, Zach Boychuk, Jiri Tlusty, Andrei Loktionov, Drayson Bowman, Nathan Gerbe
Not returning - Kirk Muller (Coach)
Looking to add – With Joni Pitkanen hopefully returning and Ryan Murphy ready to shoulder more responsibility, the Hurricanes are probably quite happy with the situation on the blueline. They are also set in goal with Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin.
What Carolina needs the most is a new coach who stresses a tight, structured system that the team will buy into. The offense would begin on the back end, with Pitkanen, Murphy, Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk and John-Michael Liles each capable of moving the puck up the ice.
The team also needs a new look up front. You may see some restructuring there in the form of a trade rather than free agency. Will they bring RFA Jiri Tlusty back? How will the enigmatic Alexander Semin respond to the new coaching style?
It’s possible that management will look to the free agent market for a gritty winger capable of occasional second-line duties.
Ready for full time – Murphy was up and down from the American League last season and also had stints in the press box. Despite the return of the veteran Pitkanen, who has a similar skill set, Murphy is probably ready for full-time NHL duty, complete with no more healthy scratches.
Fantasy Outlook: After five years out of the playoffs and with Elias Lindholm already on the team (so no blue-chip prospects on the way) the players on the Hurricanes hold little fantasy appeal. They scored more goals than eight other teams in 2013-14, which is also a strike against them. Things should be better in the year ahead, but try convincing another GM in your league of that as you’re pushing Alexander Semin on him. Fantasy Grade: C- (last year was B-)