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Hurricanes 'confident' Aho's contract will get done before training camp

Forward can become restricted free agent July 1; Carolina also talking with Mrazek, Faulk

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Carolina Hurricanes expect to get a contract done with Sebastian Aho at some point this offseason, general manager Don Waddell said Tuesday.

The 21-year-old forward, who can become a restricted free agent July 1, led Carolina with 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists) in 82 regular-season games and 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Waddell said he had "a great discussion" with Aho's agent, Gerry Johansson, at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on Friday, and he expects talks to pick up again later this week.

 

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"I'm confident we'll get him signed and get it delivered before we start training camp, but there's not a timetable that's going to happen this week or next week," Waddell said.

The Hurricanes are also still talking with goalie Petr Mrazek, who went 23-14-3 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 40 regular-season games and 5-5 with a 2.73 GAA and .894 save percentage in 11 playoff games. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. 

Video: CAR@BOS, Gm1: Aho tips in Svechnikov's shot for PPG

Mrazek split time in the regular season with Curtis McElhinney, who can also become an unrestricted free agent after going 20-11-2 with 2.58 GAA and .912 save percentage in 33 regular-season games and 3-2 with a 2.01 GAA and .930 save percentage in five playoff games. 

"It's been daily conversations with Mrazek, not so much with Curtis," Waddell said. "I feel optimistic about signing a No. 1 goalie, and Petr's certainly in the mix as we speak."

As a result, the Hurricanes will explore trade options for goalie Scott Darling, but it's more likely they'll buy him out. Darling, who has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $16.6 million contract he signed May 5, 2017, went 15-25-9 with a 3.20 GAA and .887 save percentage in 51 games with Carolina over the past two seasons and played 14 games with Charlotte of the American Hockey League this season before taking a personal leave of absence in February.

The Hurricanes acquired goalie Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward prospect Aleksi Saarela on Monday.

Defenseman Justin Faulk, who is entering the final season of a six-year, $29 million contract, can re-sign with the Hurricanes after July 1, but Waddell said he's in no rush to get a deal done. 

Faulk had 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 82 regular-season games and eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 15 playoff games.

"We'll talk to Justin's agents over the summer, but if he stays on the last year of his contract, we're OK with that," Waddell said. "You usually get the best hockey from players when they're on their last year, and we'll play it out and see how it goes. But I don't feel any urgency to get a deal done, as much as you'd like to. Not looking to trade the player, either."

However, Carolina will have to figure out whether it will have forwards Patrick Marleau and Justin Williams on its team next season.

The Hurricanes acquired Marleau, who has one season remaining on a three-year, $18.75 million contract, in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Waddell said at the time the trade was not made with the intent to buy him out.

Williams, who was named Hurricanes captain on Sept. 13, 2018, is still deciding whether to return for a 19th NHL season. The 37-year-old had 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 82 regular-season games and seven points (four goals, three assists) in 15 playoff games.

"If you look up and down [Charlotte's] roster, there are four or five guys who could compete for jobs here," Waddell said. "If Justin decides not to come back, I feel good that we'll have players knocking on that door to win that opportunity. Not just one guy, but multiple guys."

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