Waiting out the free agent market has its share of perks and drawbacks. On one hand, this was a weak free agent class and the Hurricanes managed to avoid committing long-term money to a mediocre player, something a lot of teams ended up doing. On the other hand, they do still have some needs to address and with the free agent pickings being slim, they may have to end up signing a less than ideal candidate to round out their top-nine. This isn't the worst thing in the world because the most the Hurricanes are looking for in free agency now is depth and that can always be found. Which players left in the free agent class are the best fit for Carolina, though?
This is difficult to say because Carolina can really go either way with their bottom-six. They lacked depth scoring late year, so adding a player who can chip in 10-15 goals in a third-line role would make sense. However, if they want a more offensive player, they can also turn to someone like Zac Dalpe to play this kind of role instead. It would be the cheaper option and a nice way to help ease in some of the team's younger talent. Adding a proven goal-scorer wouldn't be a bad option, though.
The other route the Hurricanes can go here is adding a bottom-six player to kill penalties or play a checking role at even strength. If they want that, then there are always plenty of free agents available at a reasonable cost. That being said, they can also promote someone from within to fill this role for less money too. With the team being low on cap space, that may not be a bad way to go. There is always the desire to add a "proven" talent, though and it's easy to see the argument for it.
With the Hurricanes needing to upgrade from last, you generally want to add someone who you know can succeed in this role rather than place faith in unproven talent. Some fans might argue that taking a roster spot away from a younger player is a bad idea, but adding a proven player for $1-2 mil. a year isn't going to sink the Hurricanes right now. If they were to sign someone to take over Chad LaRose's role from the last few years, then making room for a couple younger players shouldn't be that difficult, especially if whoever they sign is an upgrade over him.
Who would be the best fit for Carolina, though? I've heard a few names thrown around and most of them are "veteran" players or those who bring a lot of qualities but not much when it comes to on-ice performance. Adding a "gritty" player or someone who provides leadership only means so much if he is at the end of his career or doesn't provide much outside of that. This is why I hate looking at intangibles when it comes to signing free agents or trading for a player. When it comes down to it, I want to add players who help make my team as best as possible, so "character" and "locker room presence" are two of the last things on my mind.
Carolina fans were faced with a similar situation last year when the team was considering signing Alexander Semin. He was easily the best free agent on the market, but there were a lot of people who were against signing him because of his "character issues." If you put those aside, he would be a player that most fans would want to sign in a heartbeat and to help illustrate that point, I compared him to a couple of other free agents without mentioning their names. It was clear that Semin was the best option out there and fit the Hurricanes needs the best. Thankfully, the Canes took a chance on him and they ended up getting the most for their money to say the very least.
Finding the best fit of this year's free agency class is a little tougher, though. There are a lot of good players still available, but how many of them would be what Carolina is looking for? Again, I've heard a few names thrown around and most of them are only talked about for their intangible qualities rather than what they can bring to the team. To see which players best fit the Hurricanes needs, we'll have to look at them anonymously just like we did with Semin last year.no comments