The Hurricanes will not present qualifying offers to restricted free agents Troy Bodie and Jiri Tlusty
ahead of today’s 5 p.m. deadline, making them unrestricted free agents on July 1.
General Manager Jim Rutherford said that both players could still sign with the team after hitting the open market, just as defenseman Brett Carson did one year ago. By going this route, the Hurricanes will avoid potential arbitration hearings with both players, who would otherwise hold those rights.
“When you avoid arbitration you avoid someone else deciding what the contract is going to be,” said Rutherford. “That said, it’s at the risk of possibly losing them.
“We still have interest in them. It’s just part of the process.”
Rutherford added that the team could eventually offer Bodie a two-way contract that would pay him a lower amount if playing in the American Hockey League. That would make it more financially acceptable for him to play for the team’s affiliate in Charlotte, but would also make him more attractive to another team if placed on waivers - a necessity for a minor-league assignment. Tlusty would receive a one-way offer.
The Hurricanes have extended qualifying offers to all of their remaining restricted free agents, a group that includes Brandon Sutter, Derek Joslin, Bobby Sanguinetti, Brett Sutter, Brett Bellemore and Oskar Osala (in order to retain his rights while playing overseas).
As for the team’s unrestricted free agents, Rutherford said that he remained hopeful of re-signing including Erik Cole, Patrick Dwyer, Jussi Jokinen, Chad LaRose and Joni Pitkanen prior to Friday. Cory Stillman’s fate will likely depend on that of Jokinen, with Rutherford saying the team is unlikely to sign both. Stillman is expected to make a decision on his playing future next week.
Should the Canes not re-sign some of their unrestricted players, that could affect their strategy beginning Friday as they may need to search for replacements. As of now, they should be active right out of the gate in attempting to sign a fourth-line center and experienced backup goalie, having finalized their research and preparation over the weekend.
Concerning unrestricted free agents who spent the majority of last season at the minor-league level, Rutherford said that he hoped to bring back Casey Borer, Nick Dodge and Bryan Rodney. He said that he had yet to make a decision on Zack FitzGerald, while goaltender Justin Pogge will be moving on.