The maelstrom of the 2014 NHL free-agent market looms on new general manager Ron Francis' agenda like a Category 3 hurricane 100 miles off the Outer Banks coast.
The chaos is coming.
The Carolina Hurricanes' group of potentially upcoming unrestricted free agents (UFAs) consists almost entirely of depth players, freeing up little salary-cap space but presenting difficult decisions about the future of the team's secondary core.
All six NHL-level UFAs and six AHL-level UFAs carried a cap hit of less than $2 million in the 2013-14 season except for Joni Pitkanen.
None of Pitkanen's $4.5 million hit counted, however, due to injury rehabilitation. In fact, the former first-pairing defenseman told Finnish website Kaleva (English translation here) in May that "it may be that I no longer play," and thus, Pitkanen is not included in this slideshow.
Will veteran fourth-line forwards Manny Malhotra and Radek Dvorak be re-signed this summer? Will second- and third-pairing defensive defensemen Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore return in 2014-15? Which minor-league UFAs will be given another opportunity to stay in the organization?
The 2014 NHL free-agent market opens July 1. Francis has one month to make such decisions before his pending UFAs all become public property. Predictions for the fate of each Carolina UFA are on the coming slides.
This slideshow is part 1 in a two-part series on the Hurricanes' offseason free agents. Part 1, predicting which restricted free agents (RFAs) the team will keep, can be read here.