June 17, 2024

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The Carolina Hurricanes saw their second-round series comeback attempt put to an end by the New York Rangers this week and attention has quickly turned to potential changes within the team’s roster after another failed postseason. One of the biggest names reportedly set to be available is Czech forward Martin Necas.

Necas is a restricted free agent this offseason after his two-year, $6 million bridge deal with Carolina expires. Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on the latest episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, the Hurricanes and Necas aren’t expected to come to terms on a new deal.

“Necas, I have believed for some time that one just probably won’t work out there,” Friedman said. “I just don’t think that they’re going to do what Necas wants to do.”

The 25-year-old Necas was originally drafted as a center out of Czechia and it’s rumored that he sees his future in the NHL through the middle of the ice. However, Carolina’s head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, has not agreed with that assessment so far in Necas’ career, stapling him to the right wing for much of his past five years with the Hurricanes.

Necas has been very productive for Carolina the last two seasons, breaking out with a 71-point year (28g, 43a) during the 2022-23 campaign. He led the Hurricanes in scoring that season and pitched in 53 points (24g, 29a) in 77 games this past season on a deeper Carolina team.

Evolving Hockey projects Necas’ next contract, coming in a sign-and-trade scenario, to be for seven years with an average annual value cap hit of around $7.5 million. The Hurricanes are expected to be big movers this summer as they have several huge pieces of their roster like Necas, Seth Jarvis, Jake Guentzel, Jordan Martinook, Stefan Noesen, Teuvo Teravainen, Jalen Chatfield, Brett Pesce, and Brady Skjei all either set for big raises or unrestricted free agency. Top defender Jaccob Slavin is also due for an extension.

With a path forward with Neca seemingly not in the cards and the cap hit he will likely command, moving him could be the team’s only and best option. Necas, like Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, is a prime sign-and-trade candidate, allowing Carolina to maximize potential return and establish a long-term future with his eventual landing spot.

The Washington Capitals could be that landing spot as long as the Hurricanes don’t mind an in-division deal. Washington will have plenty of cap space next season to fit a large cap hit and the Caps also have stockpiled a good amount of draft capital which Carolina can receive in return without adding to their own cap.

Necas would have an immediate spot high on the Capitals’ depth chart at his preferred center position. Washington is recovering from losing Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov down the middle and leaned heavily on players not used to top-six minutes to try and cover for their lack of depth this past year.

Adding Necas at center could form a potent one-two punch with Dylan Strome and also take some pressure off younger forwards like Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre. Necas, Strome, McMichael, and Lapierre have all also spent time on the wing at the NHL level, giving head coach Spencer Carbery a layer of flexibility with his centermen.

The Capitals will also have room on the wing with players like Max Pacioretty and Nicolas Aube-Kubel likely departing in unrestricted free agency in addition to TJ Oshie’s unknown health status. Top prospect Ryan Leonard is also, for the time being, expected to return to Boston College for his sophomore season.

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