Even after a career year in 2021-22, Evan Rodrigues is still a free agent this late into the summer. In 82 games last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he scored 19 goals and recorded 43 points. Overall, those kinds of numbers certainly make him an appealing option, so it seems inevitable that he will sign a deal somewhere shortly. There are three teams that I view as solid potential landing spots for him. Let’s take a look at each of them now.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ offseason has taken a dark turn rather quickly. Recently acquired winger Max Pacioretty has suffered a torn Achilles and will be out for at least the next six months because of it. That has left a massive hole in the Hurricanes’ lineup, and there aren’t too many options left through free agency to replace him with. Yet, Rodrigues has the potential to be a very solid addition to their roster, and this is especially true if he can replicate last season’s offensive totals.
Although Rodrigues wouldn’t be expected to put up the same kinds of numbers as Pacioretty, he would still provide the Hurricanes with another quality secondary scorer. Truthfully, this is something they could use, as they already lost forwards like Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter this offseason through free agency. With Pacioretty inevitably heading to long-term injured reserve (LTIR), it will open up $7 million more for the Hurricanes to work with until he returns. That would be more than enough for them to use to land Rodrigues.
Although Rodrigues is primarily a center, he also can play both wings, so he would fit virtually anywhere in the Hurricanes’ middle six. With the Hurricanes having Stanley Cup aspirations, it would be wise for them to consider bringing in the 29-year-old to strengthen their forward depth. With that, he also would work beautifully on their second power-play unit, too.
The Seattle Kraken have had a very solid offseason. Through free agency, they have brought in Andre Burakovsky, Justin Schultz, and Martin Jones. With that, they acquired Oliver Bjorkstrand from the Columbus Blue Jackets, while top prospect Shane Wright fell right into their hands at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Although their roster is starting to look more competitive, there is still room for them to add one more player like Rodrigues before the start of 2022-23.
As noted above, Rodrigues is the kind of player who can play each forward position if needed. When looking at the Kraken’s lineup, it’s clear that he would be a fine addition to their middle six as a right winger. He’d provide them a bit more forward depth that they desperately need if they hope to have any chance of being a playoff team this upcoming season.
General manager (GM) Ron Francis has been quite aggressive this summer assembling the Kraken’s roster. Yet, with Rodrigues still available in mid-August, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Francis make a late-summer push for him. Let’s see if something comes to fruition between them.
The Kraken may have had a busy offseason, but the Ottawa Senators have had an even bigger one. GM Pierre Dorion added Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux, and Cam Talbot to the team’s roster. Due to this, many fans feel that this could finally be the year that the Senators compete for a playoff spot again. However, with the team having just under $8 million in cap space still available, they could make a last-minute move and bring Rodrigues to Ottawa.
The Senators’ offense is already looking quite solid heading into the new year, but adding a little more insurance with a player like Rodrigues would be excellent. He would work nicely as the team’s new third-line center, and that’s especially true if he can put together another 43-point season. Furthermore, secondary scoring has been an issue for the Senators during their rebuild, so the Toronto native could be an option to help fix that.
The Senators have a real chance to fight for a wild card spot this season, but teams like the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals will not be easy to pass. So, with the team having a good chunk of money left to use, it feels like the right time to make a push for Rodrigues. This is even more of the case if the 5-foot-11 forward is willing to accept a one-year deal.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see what happens with Rodrigues from here. After the year he just had, it seems like he should find a new home in no time. He would be a great fit on any of these three teams, so let’s see if one of them is the lucky club to get him locked up before the start of the season.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.