The Carolina Hurricanes’ 2022 offseason was headlined by the acquisitions of Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty. However, two forwards who were added on cheap, one-year contracts could also prove to be difference-makers for the Hurricanes, being Ondrej Kase and Paul Stastny.
Kase was signed on the opening day of free agency and should slot in as a middle-six winger. He’s coming off a strong season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which he scored 14 goals and 27 points in 50 games (while averaging under 14 minutes per game), a pace of 23 goals and 44 points per 82 games.
He’s a well-rounded and versatile forward, playing a high intensity game and also capable of killing penalties. Obviously, his health is a concern, as the forward has only played more than 55 games in a season once so far in his career. If he’s able to stay healthy though, he could certainly repeat a pace of 20-25 goals and 45 points per 82.
With Stastny, while his production has dropped off a bit over the last few years (given he’s now 36 years old), he’s still a great addition for the price. This past season, Stastny managed 21 goals and 45 points in 71 games with the Winnipeg Jets, a pace of 24 goals and 52 points per 82.
What also makes Stastny’s presence more valuable is that he could play center if needed. After Vincent Trocheck’s departure, the center roles in the top-nine are likely to be filled by Sebastian Aho, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jordan Staal. That said, Kotkaniemi is likely to get a pretty large role which he may or may not be ready for at this point, so the addition of Stastny will provide Carolina with some flexibility down the middle.
Considering each forward was signed at just $1.5 million for the year and can likely score about 20 goals and 45 points per 82, signing the duo is a steal for the Hurricanes. Especially on a single-year deal, there’s no long-term risk in regards to Kase’s injury history or Stastny’s age.
Trocheck, along with Nino Niederreiter, were the main departures from the Hurricanes' forward group this offseason and will be making a combined $9.63 million this year, after each signing multi-year deals elsewhere. While Kase and Stastny together may not fully offset those losses, managing to find two players who can provide as much value as the duo for a combined price of just $3 million is certainly a win.