After no agreements could be reached yesterday and over the last several weeks, Erik Cole and Chad LaRose
will hit the open market as unrestricted free agents today at noon.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of offers they receive from around the league. They won’t necessarily be signed today as big spending teams turn their immediate attention to bigger name players, so there may still be some time left. If Cole and LaRose don’t get what they were looking for, there’s a chance they may still elect to return to a sure thing in Carolina - if the team will still have them.
The same goes for Ryan Bayda, who is searching for a one-way contract but would likely return if he can’t get it. Dennis Seidenberg will almost certainly sign elsewhere, while the Hurricanes still hope to have Michael Ryan back in the fold in the near future.
Regardless of what happens with these players, the Hurricanes will be operating under the assumption that none of those players (except Ryan) will return. That leaves them with some holes at forward and should increase the need to bring in replacements in the coming days, although GM Jim Rutherford said that the front office wouldn’t be targeting specific players right out of the gate.
He may instead find that there are players out there who are targeting the Hurricanes. With the newfound success of so many that have played in Raleigh, why not? However, we’re at the point now, especially in the first day of free agency, where almost every notable player is the subject of a bidding war. That makes it a bit uncertain if any agreements could be reached as early as this afternoon, although discussions will almost certainly be had.
Then there’s the stated desire to round out the roster via trades, which is perhaps the more likely scenario and definitely something to keep an eye on, even now. Just look at some of the deals that were made in the last 24 hours (or were almost made) involving Scott Gomez and Dany Heatley. Rutherford sounded as though he was prepared for this situation over the last week, so the seeds could have been planted for a trade at last weekend's draft.
Stay tuned throughout the day for updates on what the Hurricanes are doing and on what happens with the team’s outgoing free agents. For those of you with access to the NHL Network, they’ll be covering the day starting with NHL Live! at 12 p.m. followed by TSN’s free agent special from 2 to 6.