The month of June is always a crazy time for the NHL. You have the Stanley Cup Finals finishing up, the NHL Draft a few weeks later and then free agency at the end of the month. Before free agency begins, one thing that teams must take care of is extend qualifying offers to players who are set to become restricted free agents on July 1st. Restricted free agents are those who are under 27 years old OR have played less than seven years in the NHL. Most RFAs are younger players who are coming off their entry-level deals or second contracts but sometimes you'll see a couple high profile players who need to be qualified before their clubs can maintain negotiating rights with them. A few notable RFAs from this season are Shea Weber, Evander Kane and Mike Green.
It is a rare instance that you'll see a high-quality RFA not tendered by his club but there are times where teams let a useful player walk in free agency because he wants too much money or the team doesn't feel that he is worth keeping around. A RFA must be offered at least 100% of what he made the previous season and sometimes more depending on his salary.
The Hurricanes have already signed two of their potential restricted free agents this summer (Jiri Tlusty & Jamie McBain) but they still have ten other players who need qualifying offers including one former first round pick. Most of the Canes potential RFAs play more important roles in Charlotte and none should be that expensive to keep around, but there could be a few who are cut loose this off-season. We will take a look at these players after the jump and discuss what the Canes might do with them.
Jeremy Welsh - Qualifying Offer: $874,125 two-way deal
There is a very small chance that Welsh isn't qualified. Welsh played only one game with the Hurricanes last season after being signed right out of college, but he was impressive in the game he played so I doubt that the Hurricanes are going to let him go for nothing. This is a club that has little to no high-end forward prospects and while Welsh isn't a future star, he addresses an area of need and it would be wise for the Hurricanes to keep him around. He's in his mid-20's but little is known of what he can do at the NHL level so I have to think that he is one of the players that Jim Rutherford plans on extending a qualifying offer to. It also helps that he has the option of being sent back to the minors without needing waivers.
Zach Boychuk - Qualifying Offer: $826,875 two-way deal
Some think that Boychuk's time here is done but I still say that it is too early to say that. He has had multiple chances to make it in the NHL but still has yet to take that next step, so I can understand the frustration concerning his development. That being said, he is only 22 and wasn't given much of a shot last season (16 GP with mostly 4th line minutes) so he is at least worth hanging onto given his success in the AHL. If Boychuk still can not crack the Hurricanes roster next season, then the Hurricanes have themselves a useful AHL player at the very least. There's a good chance that Boychuk wants to be more than that so he could be released and another team can see what they can do with him. That's not the best way to manage your assets, though.
Evgenii Dadonov - Qualifying Offer: $660,000 two-way deal
There have been rumors indicating that Dadonov is heading back to Russia to play for Traktor of the KHL but there has been no official confirmation yet. Dadonov was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers in January but still hasn't played for the Canes yet and has yet to do much in the NHL aside from a decent rookie campaign in 2010-11. Dadonov has performed decently at the NHL level but hasn't made much of a mark and his numbers with the Charlotte Checkers this year were somewhat mediocre. The Canes might want to keep him around for depth purposes but if they don't see him as much more than an AHL-er, then I wouldn't be surprised if he is let go. This is all a mute point if the scuttlebutt of him going to the KHL is true.
Drayson Bowman - Qualfying Offer: $715,000; two-way deal
Bowman is one of the few players who I am certain that Carolina will qualify. He proved to be useful as a third-liner for the Canes last season and has been one of the Checkers better offensive players for the last few years. There is no reason for the Canes to not qualify him and I would expect him to have a good shot of making the opening night lineup.
Mike Murphy - Qualifying Offer: $632,500; two-way deal
Murphy is heading for the KHL next season so we already know that he won't be retained. It's a shame because I think Murphy has starting potential but he wasn't going to be one here with Cam Ward holding the fort down for the next few years. This does leave the Hurricanes with a problem, though because they are going to need to find a goalie for the Checkers if they can not re-sign Justin Peters.
Chris Terry - Qualifying Offer: $605,000; two-way deal
After leading the Checkers in points the last two seasons, you have to wonder when Terry is going to get his shot in the NHL. He is 23 years old and has shown the ability to score at other levels so he definitely has the potential to be a useful player, but do the Hurricanes have him in their plans? My thought is that they will want to hang onto him for depth purposes and for Charlotte but I have to think that Terry's goals are higher for next season.
Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll - Qualifying Offer: $577,500; two-way deal
NcNicoll played 17 games with Charlotte this year and recorded only three points during that stretch. He spend the rest of the year with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and was much more successful there. He had 30 points in 32 games during the regular season and 21 points in 18 games in the playoffs, so that could have been enough for him to earn a minor-league contract. I wouldn't expect much more than that, though.
Kyle Lawson - Qualifying Offer: $577,500; two-way deal
Lawson spent all of last season in Florida with the Everblades but didn't play during the playoffs. I can't find a lot of information on the reason why but he could be qualified if the Hurricanes think he can make the team in Charlotte next year. It's possible with Mathieu Roy being an unrestricted free agent.
Matthew Pistilli - Qualifying Offer: $577,500; two-way deal
He was with the Checkers for all of last season and was very good in a third-line/checking role. I'd expect him to stick around since there's going to be a few players leaving and possibly graduating to the next level. He's young, has good size and seems to get better every season. His play with the Checkers last year should be enough to get him another contract.
Jerome Samson - Qualifying Offer: $577,500; two-way deal
Samson has been a 20-goal scorer for the last five years in the AHL but only scored his first goal in the NHL this season. His possession numbers were very good while with the Canes so I think he can be useful on an NHL team, but I'm not sure if the Hurricanes are the right team. He has all the makings of a decent third line type player and the Hurricanes have too many of those players in their system right now, which could make Samson expandable. He's also in his mid-20's so the window is going to be closing fast for him. Samson has all the makings of a career AHL-er, but I still think that some teams in need of depth might be interested in him. The Hurricanes still have a chance to own his rights so next year will probably be his last shot in this organization.