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2 teams linked to Hurricanes’ Brett Pesce

The Carolina Hurricanes’ season ended agonizingly short of a Game 7 in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Chris Kreider carrying the New York Rangers to the conference finals. Now they’re diving into a critical offseason that’s expected to be stressful for fans and the front office.

First and foremost, the Hurricanes have locked up head coach Rod Brind’Amour to a contract extension, something that should put Raleigh at ease for now. The next goal for interim general manager Eric Tulsky is to decide who will be re-signed and who will be allowed to hit free agency.

There is increasing belief that veteran defenseman Brett Pesce could fall into the latter category as talks do not appear to be going as hoped with less than a month before free agency begins. Carolina is currently prioritizing fellow blueliner Jaccob Slavin, so there may not be enough money to pay Pesce the kind of deal he wants.

If the 29-year-old has indeed played his last game for the Canes, then there are two teams ready to court him on the open market this summer.

“He will be a player that both Nashville and Toronto pursue if he is available July 1,” David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported. “Obviously there will be other potential suitors, but the Predators and Maple Leafs will go after him if they can. Remember, Nashville tried to trade for him last summer.

With Jake Guentzel already being acquired as a trade candidate, this latest update from Brett Pesce indicates that the Hurricanes could have quite a new look for the 2024-2025 season.

The Maple Leafs and Predators could see Pesce as the upgrade they need

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) reaches the puck in front of Philadelphia Flyers right wing Travis Konecny ​​(11) during the second period at PNC Arena.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Poaching a talent from Carolina’s blue line seems like a worthy gamble for both Toronto and Nashville, two teams desperate to advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Strengthening their defenses could be the best way to change their fate.

The Maple Leafs are constantly criticized for their lack of physicality and over-reliance on skill at the expense of toughness. This franchise is in desperate need of a new identity after another postseason loss to the Boston Bruins. Pesce could provide some of the intangibles that new head coach and former champion Craig Berube wants to see on the ice.

The Predators underwent a coaching change of their own last season, but didn’t make the leap the organization hoped for, losing in the playoffs to the Vancouver Canucks in six games. They could look to free agency and secure a top defenseman to strengthen the blue line. Brett Pesce, who had three goals, 113 blocks, 25 hits and 35 giveaways in 70 games for the Hurricanes last season, could also be a nice complementary option.

Carolina has had time to work out a contract extension with Pesce, but now the front office – in the midst of a major makeover – must accept the possibility that he could leave for nothing. After nearly a decade with the team, both Pesce and Canes fans will be feeling a lot of emotion if a split is on the horizon.

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