Hurricanes Need to Prioritize Re-Signing Martin Necas

Martin Necas is coming off arguably the worst season of his young career. He finished his third full campaign in Raleigh with 40 points in 72 games and didn’t score a goal in 14 postseason games. Despite an underwhelming overall performance from the 23-year-old forward, I believe it is in the Hurricanes’ best interest to re-sign him. While I don’t believe Carolina should offer him a long-term extension, his potential is far too great to not do everything in their power to re-sign him to a one or two-year deal.

The Hurricanes drafted Necas with the 12th pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, as he has become known for his breathtaking speed on the ice. He has primarily played as a winger for the Hurricanes after being drafted as a center. However, with question marks surrounding the play of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, I think he could benefit from being given a chance to prove himself as the team’s second-line center, due to the fact that he has continued to improve his offensive skills and is a weapon in transition thanks to his game-changing speed.

Necas Trade Rumors

Necas has been linked to a couple of different teams so far this offseason as a potential trade piece, as Carolina reportedly offered the Calgary Flames a trade package for Matthew Tkachuk that included him as the centrepiece (from “Matthew Tkachuk on picking Panthers over hometown Blues: ‘Could I have pictured myself there? Yes”, Jeremy Rutherford, The Athletic, 07/24/22). However, the Flames didn’t see enough value in their offer and dealt Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers. TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported in late June that Carolina was receiving calls from other teams on the young Czech forward.

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Despite the rumors, Necas has yet to be moved or re-signed after over two weeks have passed since the start of the free agency period. Should the Hurricanes not receive an offer that includes a young forward with elite goal-scoring abilities, I believe the right decision is to re-sign him.

Bounce Back Coming?

It’s no secret that Necas experienced a step back last season, finishing with almost identical production to the 2020-21 season although in 25 more games played. He also had a career-low shooting percentage of 6.2%, down from 8.9% in 2020-21. I believe his lack of success offensively throughout last season challenged the level of confidence he played with. He is at his best when he is utilizing his speed to produce plenty of transition opportunities and firing quickly should he see an open look off of a pass from a teammate. This style of play leaves no room for hesitancy which decreased the confidence he usually creates.

Martin Necas Carolina Hurricanes
Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Looking back at the film from his past two seasons you can almost see his confidence dwindle from one year to the next. If he can continue to improve his finishing ability and figure out how to regain his confidence, I believe he can be a consistent top-six option for Carolina in 2022-23 and beyond. If they do end up re-signing him, the first 10-15 games of the season will be crucial for his future success, so it is imperative that he comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

Hurricanes Should Avoid Too Much Change

Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media ahead of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. When asked about free agency moves, he made it clear that it would be in the team’s best interest to avoid changing the roster too much.

“We like our team and we like our players,” Waddell said. “We know we’re going to have some changeover, but we did finish with 116 points last year. So we have to be careful not to tinker with it too much” (from “Hurricanes roster will change as NHL free agent period opens”, Raleigh News & Observer, 07/12/22).

I believe the Hurricanes made a mistake in not re-signing forward Nino Niederreiter, and doing the same thing with Necas would also be a mistake. The addition of Max Pacioretty should help, but that is only temporary. While the potential loss of Necas this offseason wouldn’t be an issue this season, it could be very tough to overcome in the long term, especially if he rises to the level of consistency he has the potential to reach.

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