Their first signing of the day, former Colorado Avalanche center Brad Malone, was praised as a vital improvement to the team's weak cast of bottom-six forwards.
Malone signed a two-year contract with the 'Canes just an hour past noon, per Aaron Ward of TSN:
Carolina Hurricanes come to terms with Brad Malone 2 years at $1.3M total. #TSN— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) July 1, 2014
He'll carry a cap hit of $650,000 and play on a one-way deal.
Said Francis per the team's official press release, "Brad is a big, physical forward. He can play either center or wing and helps improve our team’s depth up front."
The 'Canes likely targeted Malone, 25, for his size and physicality.
The 6'2", 207-pound forward played 32 games for Colorado in 2013-14 and tallied a whopping 79 hits, leading the Avs in hits-per-game average. Over the course of 54 career NHL appearances, Malone has averaged a remarkable 2.43 per game.
Brad Malone is a 6'2", 207-pound forward. Gives the #Canes some good size in their bottom six.— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) July 1, 2014
Carolina undoubtedly needs more toughness, especially after sending away enforcers Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu during the 2013-14 campaign. Malone is a worthy contributor in that regard, small sample size aside.
But scoring? It's not Malone's strongest attribute.
The University of North Dakota graduate tallied just five points this past season and nine in his NHL career to date.
Advanced stats paint an even less impressive picture, as Malone posted a Corsi percentage of 40.7 percent—5.3 percent lower than the team's percentage when he was off the ice (based on shot-attempt differential)—despite starting a highly beneficial 66.9 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, according to Extra Skater data.
After growing accustomed to the defensive tendencies of former fourth-line center Manny Malhotra, who signed in Montreal on Tuesday, the 'Canes could have a difficult time adjusting to Malone, who is not nearly as reliable in his own zone.
Was Brad Malone worth a two-year, $1.3 million contract?
However, the difference between Malhotra and Malone may be most evident in the faceoff circle. The former ranked second in the NHL with a 59.4 winning percentage; the latter won just 46.9 percent of his 96 draws this past season.
Malone is nine years younger and miles more adept at the physical aspect of the game. It's hard not to wonder, though, if the total package is any improvement at all.
The 'Canes first addition of July may indeed bolster (slightly) their bottom-six depth, but he's hardly worthy of the opening day roster spot that he seems to have been awarded.