Busy offseason awaits Hurricanes

Carolina got coach Rod Brind’Amour signed to an extension but has plenty more to consider this summer

Hurricanes defense partners Brady Skjei, center, and Brett Pesce, left, could both be unrestricted free agents on July 1. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Change, they say, is inevitable.

It’s certainly coming for the Carolina Hurricanes this offseason.

After the Hurricanes’ shocking exit from the playoffs following a blown two-goal, third-period lead in Game 6 against the New York Rangers last Thursday, focus immediately turned to the summer and the work ahead for Don Waddell, the team’s president and general manager.

Waddell took care of his biggest bit of business first, getting coach Rod Brind’Amour to agree to a multiyear extension that also included new deals for the team’s assistants and staff.

“The number one priority for us was to make sure that we got Rod taken care of,” Waddell said at Monday’s end-of-season press conference. “And Rod’s got a great team that he picked, his coaches. It was important for Rod and for myself to make sure that we have them all under contract moving forward. So the whole coaching staff will be back, and we’re excited about that.”

Brind’Amour has led Carolina to the postseason in each of his six seasons as coach, winning at least one playoff round in each of those years and taking the team to the Eastern Conference final twice.

Brind’Amour ranks 60th all time in coaching wins with a 278-130-44 regular season record, and his .615 winning percentage is the best among coaches with at least 300 games behind the bench.

It has been reported that Brind’Amour’s contract is for five years, though some of those years might be option years for either the team or Brind’Amour.

“It’s a multiyear deal and we’re going to be around for a while,” Brind’Amour said Monday. “So that’s kind of just how I want to leave it. … It’s hard for me to envision just doing this anywhere else. That’s really the bottom line.”

Waddell’s work is far from done.

The Hurricanes have nine NHL contributors slated for unrestricted free agency and five more restricted free agents.

Defensemen Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Jalen Chatfield and Tony DeAngelo are all unrestricted free agents — and three are ranked among the top 24 players available this summer in DailyFaceoff.com’s list of Top 50 UFAs.

Skjei is poised to be the top defenseman on the market, and given the likelihood Carolina will work on a long-term extension with Jaccob Slavin while having top prospect Alexander Nikishin in the wings, the Hurricanes have little room on the left side to pay Skjei the hefty and lengthy contract he should get.

“I think I just want a fair offer, probably, is the biggest thing,” Skjei said Saturday. “We’ll see what that looks like.”

Pesce, Skjei’s longtime defense partner, can also be an unrestricted free agent for the first time. Despite since-deleted tweets by his father that his son will be playing elsewhere next season, Pesce hinted that he was open to working with the Hurricanes on a “team-friendly” extension.

“It kind of just depends what you value,” Pesce said Saturday. “I’ve been through both ends where our team wasn’t very good to now. It’s much easier to go to the rink every day and do what you love (when you’re winning).”

Chatfield, who became a regular last season and then wrestled the No. 6 job from DeAngelo this season, also has leverage and, at age 28, should see this as his best chance to cash in.

“We’ve got one of the best D corps in the league,” Waddell said. “We’d like to keep them together.”

The Hurricanes also have the No. 2 player on Daily Faceoff’s big board in Jake Guentzel, the highest profile of several Carolina forwards who could head to market.

Waddell gave up Michael Bunting, two prospects and a second-round pick for Guentzel at the trade deadline, and he rewarded Carolina with 25 points in 17 regular season games and nine more in 11 playoff games with the Hurricanes.

Guentzel turns 30 on Oct. 6 and has already turned aside a team-friendly extension offer from the Penguins, which led to him being dealt at the deadline. He’d probably be unlikely to give Carolina a discount either, and a seven- or eight-year contract in the neighborhood of $9 million annually is probably his price point.

“I just loved my time here, and we’re gonna see what happens in the next little bit here,” Guentzel said Saturday.

Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook, Stefan Noesen and Antti Raanta are also unrestricted free agents, and Martin Necas, Seth Jarvis and Jack Drury all need new deals as restricted free agents.