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The Exit Interview: The Second Round Version

Courtesy of Jason Franson / The Canadian Press

As the summer has progressed, so have the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the second round has recently come to a close. The Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and Vancouver Canucks have been eliminated as the quest for hockey’s ultimate prize continues. Though their season may be over, these teams will remain far from stagnant during the remaining summer months. Let’s take a look at what these teams will be doing during the offseason to get ready for next season.

Courtesy of Josh Lavallee / NHLI via Getty Images

First, the Carolina Hurricanes have already started to take care of business during the off season. The Hurricanes started by extending Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour on a multi-year contract, as his previous one had come to a close at the end of their playoff run. The next situation that the Canes must handle is a bit tricky. One of the big headlines right now is that right winger Martin Necas is about to become a restricted free agent when his contract expires this offseason. Necas was originally drafted as a center, and sees the most potential for himself playing that position.

However, Brind’Amour has had him playing as a right wing for the past five NHL seasons, and has no intentions of having Necas play any other position. If the Canes decide to trade Necas, they could maximize a lot of potential return. If they decide to keep Necas, they will “...figure out something with him,” said General Manager Don Waddell in an article from The Raleigh News & Observer. At the moment, it is uncertain for whom and what position Necas will be playing next season. 

Courtesy of The Boston Globe

Next, after being defeated by their southern archrivals once again, the Boston Bruins now have the offseason to look forward to. So far, the Bruins seem to have their offseason priorities straight. Though they are aiming to reinforce their scoring depth and strengthen the blue line, their main priority involves the futures of both their goaltenders: Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.

In a perfect world, the Bruins could move forward into next season with two top-ranked goalies on their roster. However, this would require the Bruins to reserve roughly $14 million of cap space just for the goalies, which would not be wise. Because the Bruins used Swayman in the net more during the playoffs, it is looking like the veteran and reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Ullmark’s time in Boston is coming to a close. If the Bruins decide to trade Ullmark, all sides would benefit. Ullmark would be a wall in the net for many teams needing goaltending help. In return, the Bruins could receive draft capital or even a star forward, winger, or center. 

Courtesy of The New York Times

Then, there are the Colorado Avalanche, who must make some very difficult decisions this offseason. At the top of their list are the futures of Captain Gabriel Landeskog and right winger Valeri Nichushkin. It is uncertain whether Landeskog can make a comeback after missing two full seasons due to a knee injury and if Nichushkin can be reliable after leaving in the middle of the postseason for the second year in a row due to personal issues.

Though Landeskog has been cleared to practice again, and even skated with the team periodically during his two year absence, he is still nowhere near game-ready. In Nichushkin’s case, he has been forced to sit out six months and must complete level three in the NHL’s Player Assistance Program. Meanwhile, the Avalanche are excited to further integrate the players they received at the last trade deadline into their system and come back stronger next season. 

Courtesy of Bob Frid / USA Today Sports

Lastly, it looks like the Vancouver Canucks will be busy in the front office during the offseason. During the regular season, the Canucks were at the top of the Pacific Division rankings for the first time in history. During the postseason, they did not take their foot off the gas and continued to show the NHL what they were capable of. Going into the offseason, the Canucks have a relatively flexible salary cap, which is something that most skilled teams are not blessed with.

However, many of the key contributors to their successful run this season are not locked in. Teddy Blueger, Dakota Joshua, Elias Lindholm, Sam Lafferty, Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole, Tyler Myers, and Filip Hronek all have expiring contracts. The Canucks are faced with a choice: they must retain or rebuild their defense. If they choose to rebuild, it could be very expensive to sign players that have the same size advantage as Zadorov, Myers, and Joshua. On the contrary, it will also be very expensive to re-sign those players now that they have tasted success. It will be interesting to see if the Canucks can outwit the effects of the salary cap and a winning culture this offseason. 

These teams have a lot in store during the offseason as they gear up for the season ahead. With many twists and turns, it will be neat to see what these teams do as more news emerges and more moves are made each day.

Edited by Emma Habel

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