The Carolina Hurricanes extended qualifying offers to forwards Sebastian Aho, Clark Bishop, Saku Maenalanen and Brock McGinn, defensemen Trevor Carrick, Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.
In doing so, the Hurricanes retain negotiating rights with these restricted free agents, a group headlined by Aho, who put up career highs in goals (30), assists (53) and points (83) in the 2018-19 season. The Canes' team scoring leader also paced the club in playoff points with 12 (5g, 7a) in 15 games.
The Canes have been in constant contact with Aho and his representation regarding a long-term contract. The two sides met over the weekend in Vancouver and plan to continue discussions this week.
"The good thing is, I don't think we're terribly far apart," Canes President and General Manager Don Waddell said on Saturday. "They want to get a deal done as much as we want to get a deal done."
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Fleury split the 2018-19 season between Raleigh and Charlotte, playing in 20 regular-season games with the Hurricanes and 28 with the Checkers. He logged nine playoff games with the Canes and 11 with the Checkers, helping Charlotte capture the Calder Cup.
Following a trade with Chicago that sent defenseman Calvin de Haan to the Blackhawks, a spot on the Hurricanes' blue line is now vacant and could be filled by a player like Fleury or Jake Bean.
"Our young players Fleury and Bean have really taken a big step, and we think we need to provide opportunities," Waddell said on a Tuesday conference call. "We think with the games he played last year that he's ready to step in and be regular NHL player."
Nedeljkovic made his first NHL start in late January in Vancouver and stopped 24 of 26 shots to earn his first career victory. He was named the AHL's goaltender of the year with a 34-9-5 record, a 2.26 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He is expected to compete for a goaltending job with the Hurricanes this season.
Defenseman Gustav Forsling and goaltender Anton Forsberg had already been extended qualifying offers from Chicago prior to the Hurricanes acquiring them on Monday, so they also remain restricted free agents.
Defenseman Josh Wesley was the organization's only restricted free agent not tendered a qualifying offer. He will become an unrestricted free agent on Monday, July 1.
The following players are also pending unrestricted free agents: forwards Patrick Brown, Micheal Ferland, Greg McKegg, Andrew Poturalski and Justin Williams, defenseman Dan Renouf and goaltenders Curtis McElhinny and Petr Mrazek.
Of the headliners in that group, Ferland is expected to test the market come July 1, and Williams has not yet made a decision on his playing future. As for the Hurricanes' goaltending situation, there remain questions to be answered in the coming week.
"We're still talking with our two goalies as we speak. It's been daily conversations with Mrazek, but not so much with Curtis," Waddell said. "I'm still optimistic about signing a No. 1 goalie. Petr is certainly in the mix as we speak."