Hurricanes’ Jake Guentzel ‘Has Not Given Up’ on Initial FA Plans

Jake Guentzel of the Carolina Hurricanes is a pending free agent.

Getty Jake Guentzel of the Carolina Hurricanes is a pending free agent.

The Carolina Hurricanes and pending free agent forward Jake Guentzel might still find a way to agree to a contract extension before or after July 1.

Although Jake Guentzel’s future with the Carolina Hurricanes remains uncertain with the former Pittsburgh Penguin entering free agency on July 1, there is still a chance both parties find common ground in negotiations and sign an extension.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, appearing on an NHL Tonight segment on June 13, noted that Guentzel is interested in exploring the market before making a final decision. However, Friedman doesn’t think the player “has given up on the idea” of returning to Carolina.

“Well, I there’s obviously a lot of interest,” Friedman said. “I don’t think Guentzel has given up on the idea of Carolina. But I do think that, honestly, I think he wants to know what the market is at some point before he makes a commitment.”

If Friedman’s thoughts are correct, then they would align with Guentzel’s original comments and plan for the future. The forward told reporters on May 18, “Hopefully, [I] can kind of get some stability and be able to sign here long-term.”

Guentzel completed his contract earning a salary of $6 million in 2024 when the New York Rangers eliminated the Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs.

Hurricanes and Guentzel Interested in Agreeing to Extension

The Hurricanes acquired Guentzel from the Pittsburgh Penguins before the March 8 trade deadline. Guentzel made an immediate impact, scoring 25 points in 17 regular-season games and adding 5 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs.

Both Guentzel and the Hurricanes expressed interest in a long-term deal after the season. Former Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell (now with the Columbus Blue Jackets) indicated the franchise’s desire to retain Guentzel.

“With Jake, I think he played a good role here,” Waddell said on May 20. “We have begun those talks. We’ll talk to him also.”

Guentzel also expressed his interest in staying in Carolina during the end-of-season media availability on May 18.

“I loved my experience here,” Guentzel said. “It’s a great place to play. I don’t think you realize the behind-the-scenes, how good it is. The guys make it good too. We’re going to see what happens over the next little bit here.

“I want to [win] more than anything, and that’s all I care about. That definitely plays a factor into it. Hopefully, you can kind of get some stability and be able to sign here long-term.”

Friedman believes both sides are willing to give some room to each other so the player can explore the market, see what’s waiting for him out there, and then make a decision.

“Carolina’s kind of an interesting team,” Friedman said. “I actually kind of liked the way they do this. They’re not afraid of saying ‘Okay, this is what we consider our limit and you can kind of see what else is out there.’ I don’t know that they’ve officially done that here but it doesn’t scare Carolina (saying) ‘You can kind of see what’s out there, and you can always come back if you don’t like what you find.'”

Hurricanes Set Price for Guentzel in Negotiating-Rights Trade

Friedman reported on June 7 that the Hurricanes are willing to part with Guentzel for a mid-round draft pick if they cannot agree on an extension.

“It sounds like he is available for a mid-round pick,” Friedman said. “I believe Carolina has let everyone know that if you want to trade for his rights for the chance to sign him, that it is possible for a mid-round pick.”

The Hurricanes paid a high price to acquire Guentzel, so this decision would make sense if they know Guentzel is determined to leave. The Canes sent Michael Bunting, three prospects, a conditional 2024 first-round pick, and a fifth-round pick to the Penguins in March 2024.

Canucks & Blackhawks Potential Suitors for Guentzel

Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reported on June 9 that the Vancouver Canucks could try to acquire Guentzel’s negotiating rights from the Hurricanes before he enters free agency on July 1.

“In the hunt for a top-six winger, Jake Guentzel has always been in the Vancouver Canucks’ crosshairs,” Kuzma wrote. “However, pulling a trigger on the pending unrestricted free agent was going to be complicated. But now there’s clarity. The Carolina Hurricanes will accept a mid-round draft pick for the rights to negotiate with Guentzel before July 1 free agency because he appears destined for the open market.”

The Canucks, however, do not have first- or second-round selections in the 2024 NHL draft to offer to Carolina in a trade for Guentzel. The most they could part with would be a third or fourth-round pick.

Friedman mentioned the reports putting the Canucks in contention to land Guentzel, and the insider also added another interesting franchise: the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks.

“And there’s been a lot of reports, like Vancouver. It’s not easy for Vancouver to do, but I think they’re gonna look at it.

“I think Chicago was a team that has considered it. I think they would like to kind of move things along and find some guys who can play next to Conor Bedard. But I just think at this point in time, I wouldn’t say yet that he’s a guarantee to go back to Carolina.”

Friedman had speculated about the Hawks’ interest in Guentzel before, on June 5.

“I look at it this way,” Friedman said. “Jake Guentzel is a Midwest guy. Chicago is a Midwest location. Also, they do need to get players to play with the guard… and it just doesn’t seem insane to me.”

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