RALEIGH — The Hurricanes signed just one player on the opening of free agency, instead using July 13 to focus on landing defenseman Brent Burns in a trade with the Sharks.
Nearly six weeks later, Carolina added a player as a free agent who, like Burns, is at the tail end of a memorable career.
The Hurricanes announced Tuesday the signing forward Paul Stastny to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
“Paul is an extremely reliable veteran who has been effective at both ends of the ice for his entire career,” Hurricanes President and GM Don Waddell said in a press release. “He adds even more experience and leadership to our forward group, and we are excited to have him in Carolina.”
Stastny, who will turn 37 shortly after Christmas, has 800 points in 1,072 NHL games with four NHL teams, most recently finishing a second stint with Winnipeg. He earned $3.75 million with the Jets last season. CapFriendly.com reported that Stastny’s one-year deal with Carolina includes a no-trade clause and a $500,000 performance bonus if the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup.
“They’ve been close,” Stastny said of the Hurricanes. “And we were always kind of interested in them. And then to make it work was something that I’m very excited about.”
The Quebec City native is the son of longtime NHL player Peter Stastny and nephew to three hockey-playing uncles, two of whom — Marian and Anton — played for several years on the Nordiques with their brother, the 1981 Calder Trophy winner.
For Paul, however, this will be his first time playing on the East Coast. The 16-year veteran spent the first eight seasons of his career with Colorado before playing three-plus years in St. Louis. He was traded at the 2018 deadline to Winnipeg and then played the following two years with the Vegas Golden Knights. He returned to the Jets before the 2020-21 season and had 45 points — including 21 goals, his highest total since 2013-14 — in 71 games with Winnipeg last season.
“It’s a new challenge,” Stastny said of playing in the Eastern Conference for the first time. “I think this league now is so good, it doesn’t matter. If you’re playing on the best team in the Western Conference or the worst in the Eastern Conference, every night is a competition and you’ve got to be at your best.
“But I told my wife, after playing in Carolina, now we’ve played in the Pacific time zone, Mountain, Central and Eastern time zone. So we get a little taste of everything. You only grow and learn from stuff like this, and it’s something that we come into with a positive attitude and we’re excited about it.”
Last season was the 12th 40-point season of Stastny’s career, but he comes to Carolina looking for the one thing that has eluded him — a Stanley Cup championship.
“It’s a chance to win,” he said. “I think that’s what everyone wants.”
While Stastny will certainly be expected to put up points, his biggest value may come as a veteran presence. He has reached the conference final with three different teams and has 69 points in 103 career postseason games.
Stastny should also offer versatility in the forward ranks. His days as a top-six center are behind him, but he should still be a useful bottom six winger who can jump up the lineup when needed. He can also serve an insurance policy at center if Carolina is hit with injuries or rookie Jack Drury — who is expected to make the team — hits a rough patch. His addition should help fill some of the void created by the injury to Max Pacioretty.
“I kind of looked at the forward depth and realized there’s a lot of good players here that can play wing or center,” Stastny said. “So when you play with those smart players, to me, it really doesn’t matter.”
Chicago Wolves, Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, name Sheahan new coach
The Hurricanes were also busy on the bench Tuesday. The team announced that Brock Sheahan, coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, was named the new coach of the Chicago Wolves, the team’s AHL affiliate. Sheahan replaces Ryan Warsofsky, who led the Wolves to the Calder Cup last season and took an assistant coaching job with the San Jose Sharks this summer.
The 38-year-old Sheahan, a native of Lethbridge, Alberta, has been with the Steel for the past five seasons, including two-plus seasons as head coach. The last two seasons, Hurricanes 2019 fourth-round pick Jackson Blake played under Sheahan in Chicago. Sheahan was 100-27-12-3 with the Steel, winning the Clark Cup — the USHL championship — in 2021, and the team twice won the Anderson Cup with the top regular season record during his tenure.
“Brock led the Chicago Steel to a Clark Cup and two Anderson Cups in just three seasons, and he brings that championship pedigree to our organization,” Waddell said in a release. “His ability to promote on-ice success while managing a development program made him a strong candidate for the position, and throughout the interview process, it became clear that he was the best fit to lead the Wolves.”
Sheahan, a defenseman by trade, played collegiately at Notre Dame, serving as an alternate captain on the 2007-08 Irish team that included defensemen Kyle Lawson (a 2005 Carolina seventh-round draft pick) and Ian Cole. After five seasons playing professionally in the ECHL, AHL and Germany, Sheahan returned to South Bend as an assistant coach with the Fighting Irish.
He was an assistant for four seasons at College of the Holy Cross before joining the Steel in 2018. He was named head coach in the middle of the 2019-20 season.
The Steel have a history of producing NHL players, including current Hurricanes Jaccob Slavin and Mackenzie MacEachern. Owen Power, the top overall pick in the 2021 draft, played for Sheahan in Chicago in 2019-20, and former Hurricanes Brendan Woods and Danny Richmond also played in Chicago.
Sheahan is the cousin of Sabres forward Riley Sheahan.
Hurricanes moving to black home uniforms
A day after NHL apparel company Fanatics listed the Hurricanes’ black alternate sweaters as “home jerseys” in its online store, the website Sportslogos.net reported that Carolina will indeed use their black third alternate uniforms featuring the hurricane flags logo as their home uniform for the 2022-23 season.
The Hurricanes have made the black uniforms their home kits for each of the last four postseasons but kept their more traditional red sweaters with the “sightless eye” logo as their home set during the regular season.
Sportslogos.net also reported that the Hurricanes will not wear the red uniforms during the regular season. Carolina will wear its Whalers alternate uniforms on March 26 against the Bruins and have a special uniform for the Stadium Series game against the Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium on Feb. 18. The Hurricanes will also have a Reverse Retro uniform this season.
The oval-shaped traditional logo will remain Carolina’s primary logo despite it not being used on either of their primary sweaters in the upcoming season, according to a source.