The Captain was the second member of the locker room in front of a microphone this morning and the biggest topic at hand was his impending free agency. Staal signed a 10-year, $60M deal with the Canes in 2012, but now that that has come to a close, what’s next for #11?
“I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’m sure we’ll find a way to get a deal done now that we’re finished here. Hopefully, we’ll check off some unfinished business here… At the end of last year, I just wanted to mentally play to the end of my contract and be relevant still. I’m happy I’m still relevant, playing some good hockey, and contributing. Moving forward, I want to be here. I want to be a part of this group. I love this group. I love these guys and I love this organization. It’s been so much and I’m so blessed to be here as long as I have. I want to finish my career off here.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Staal
The veteran’s first season in Raleigh was a historic one, setting a new franchise record for the most points in a regular season by a defenseman (61). And while he enjoyed the on-ice success, he elaborated most on his impressions of the community today.
“For (my wife and I), we’ve got three kids. You get to see a lot of other parts of the city that have just been incredible since day one. The school system, the friends outside of hockey, the people at church, the people at the grocery store. It’s been awesome. It’s a great city. It’s a great place to raise a family and to be a part of. It’s a special place and that’s all you can hope for as a player.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Burns
Leaving Game 4 after a thunderous hit from Sam Bennett, the most important note from #74 is that he’s feeling okay after what was a scary end to his season.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone reaching out. All of the prayers and text messages that we’ve been getting have been super encouraging. I’m thankful for the Raleigh community and obviously, our fan base is awesome.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Slavin
After going on waivers ahead of opening night, #48 had himself a career-year with 34 points. A staple to the left of Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast, Martinook touched on how this season was a refreshing one, proving that he could still play.
“My last couple of years haven’t been what I wanted them to be. I knew I had this in me and I knew I was still a good player… I felt like people were writing me off. I used that as motivation. I knew I had a lot left to give.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Martinook
#26 took less money than some of his other offered contracts last summer to come to Raleigh and try to win a Stanley Cup. Now an unrestricted free agent again this summer, the now 37-year-old says he’ll take some time before deciding if he wants to play again next year.
“After a playoff series, I’ve always been good at taking a couple of weeks off. Right when you’re out of it, you want to play, or you don’t want to play. Then things change when your body starts to feel better. I’ll sit down with my family, my dad, and my advisor, but it comes down to what my family and I want to do. We’ll enjoy the next couple of weeks before we figure out what we want to do.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Stastny
Along similar lines, Stepan is also another veteran forward that’s set to be an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Although he returned initially on a professional tryout this season, the 13-year pro once again showcased his exemplary attitude at today’s interview.
“When I first signed on the PTO, the role was to maybe be the extra forward for a little bit. I actually ended up playing more than I did last year. It’s a production-based league and there wasn’t much there. It was an interesting year, to say the least… I love it here. I’ve got no complaints. With the disappointment in my production, I still believe I can play.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Stepan
The front office of the Canes has some major decisions to make for the 2023-24 season when it comes to their crease. Pyotr Kochetkov is signed and expected to become a full-time NHLer, and both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are UFAs. But “Zilla” was direct when asked if he wanted to return to Raleigh.
“Absolutely. I really like it here. I hope we can get something done… It’s my priority to be back here, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s been a really good time here in my two years. I really enjoy the guys on the team and I think this run showed that we have a lot of care in our culture here.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Andersen
As mentioned above, “Father Finn” is heading into summer without a deal for next season. Bouncing back from knee injury suffered during the 2022 playoffs with a 19-3-3 record in the regular season, and an applause-worthy Round 1 against the New York Islanders, Raanta was happy to be back and contributing, in a mostly healthy way…
“I felt good this year. I think I played pretty well, but there are still some things where I think I can be better… Whenever Roddy said it was my turn, I felt ready to go.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Raanta
After the team lost Vincent Trocheck in free agency last summer, the eyes moved onto “KK” becoming the club’s “second-line center”. Producing a career-high 43 points, Kotkaniemi feels as though his game improved from last year and knows there’s a lot more to offer, but he’s more concerned with winning when it matters.
“I’ve kind of seen it all. I’ve lost in the first round, second round, conference finals, (and Stanley Cup Final). I’m kind of getting tired of that. I want to win the big prize.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Kotkaniemi
In sticking with the Finns, perhaps no player expressed more disappointment and sadness today than #86. It was a trying year for Teravainen. The production was not what he’d hoped it would be, he suffered the emotional loss of his grandfather in-season, missed time due to an injury in November-December, and then had his hand broken during the playoffs.
“I feel like nothing really went my way this year. I’ll try not to think about it too much, get ready for next season, and just be better.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Teravainen
As competitive as they come, the top-line center’s disappointment stemmed from another season of the group coming up short. The fire burns very clearly for #20 to hoist a Stanley Cup, and he hopes that this year’s ending won’t be forgotten when the team begins their new quest in September.
“It still stings a lot. It’ll stay with us for a long time. But we can also use it as fuel for the future.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Aho
Like Aho, the 2023-24 season is the last on the current contract for Skjei. Both will become eligible to sign long-term extensions on July 1, and the 18-goal scorer has a clear interest in exploring that path.
“I love it here. I’d love to stay. It’s such a great organization with the people here, the team, the guys, the coaching staff, management. It’s just an awesome place to play.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Skjei
But before Skjei needs to worry about a place to play for the 2024-25 season, the team’s biggest acquisition at the trade deadline this year will be looking for a home this fall. In what is not a particularly strong free agency class for left-handed defensemen, Gostisbehere is looking forward to being courted in July.
“I just thanked a couple of guys for how seamless they made my transition. I was talking to my wife last night and I said to her it feels like we’ve been here longer than we were in Arizona this year… If I can (stay), I would. It’s not in my hands, really. It’s the first time I’m an (unrestricted) free agent and I feel like I deserve that.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Gostisbehere
Gostisbehere spent every game of his time with Carolina paired with Jalen Chatfield. What a season it was for the Ypsilanti, Michigan-born product. On Opening Night back in October it was a three-horse race for the final spot on the right side of the defense between Dylan Coghlan, Ethan Bear, and Chatfield. #5 got first dibs and never looked back.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot better as a player. Getting the opportunity to come in and play here for the full year, play with such a good group of guys and a great coaching staff, it helped me so much.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Jalen Chatfield
Staying on the blue line, #22 is also a part of the club that enters 2023-24 on the final year of his deal. Like the others that spoke before him, he communicated his wish to stay with the team beyond that. So what is it that makes everyone enjoy Raleigh so much?
“I think the better question is what doesn’t make this place so great? The weather, the community, the team, the coaching staff, everything. I’ve been here my whole career but talking to guys coming in from other teams, it seems like we’ve got it good here. It’s an unbelievable place.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Pesce
Someone who loves Raleigh enough to sign an eight-year contract extension was #37. 76 days removed from his season-ending ACL injury, it was evident that “Svech” had a tough time watching the playoffs and not being able to participate.
“I hated it. I have nothing to say but I hated it. It was tough to watch. It was fun to watch when we were winning, but when we were losing it was tough because you want to get out there and help the boys.”
Svechnikov said that he anticipates being able to get back onto the ice for the first time in about a month.
Video: Exit Interviews: Svechnikov
At the 2022 end-of-season interviews, there was a big question of “Now What?” when it came to Martin Necas. After an underperforming 2021-22 season, #88 bounced back with a club-leading 71 points and a career-year in all major offensive statistics.
“I feel like I took a step forward, which is obviously good. I’m happy to be a part of this team… I feel like I still have more steps to take and I definitely want to do that in the next few seasons.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Martin Necas
Speaking of last year’s end-of-season interviews, it was difficult to see the condition Jarvis was in after suffering a concussion courtesy of Jacob Trouba in the Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers. Thankfully, this time around, the sophomore was healthy, but you could see that the season wasn’t what he’d expected of himself. Just 21 years old, the Winnipeg native showcased growth and maturity when speaking on what summer looks like for him.
“Getting stronger is always going to help. I’m tired of being pushed around, I want to fight back a little bit. Hopefully, in three months, I can put on some good weight and muscle. I just want to be a better person, a better human, and a better player. I think that all ties into taking care of myself, my mental health, and being ready for next year.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Seth Jarvis
Jarvis had five goals during the postseason and the only man that had more was the one they call “Quickie.” Producing six in 15 games, Fast may have earned himself some real money this summer, as he too is an unrestricted free agent. While the Canes can try and avoid that by locking him up before July 1, Fast spoke high praises of his time with the franchise.
“I’ve had three great years. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Me and my family love it here. Both of my kids were born here. It will also be something special. If everybody wants me here and we can figure it out, that would be the best thing for me.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Fast
Someone who will for sure be in Raleigh next season, or at least is hoping to be full-time, is Kochetkov. Signed to a four-year, $2M AAV deal this season, the idea is likely for #52 to be one of Carolina’s goalie tandem members in the fall. Although his English remains a work in progress, he was kind enough to take a few questions today, with the translating help of Svechnikov.
“A lot of work this summer. Next season (I hope) to stay here… (This year) was my first year in America and the first full year being able to play in the NHL. I got experience from playing in the league and playing in the best guys in the world.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Pyotr Kochetkov
Last, but certainly not least, Noesen arrived at his press availability with a sling on his left side. Sharing that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder dislocation during the playoffs, he says that he doesn’t think he’ll need surgery. Injury aside, it was a remarkable year for #23, who went from playing just two games with the NHL club last year to playing 78 this year, plus 15 more in the playoffs. Now that he’s got consistency back in his game, he’s hoping to build off of that in the fall.
“Hopefully it includes scoring more goals. I think I had a lot of chances this year. I got my touch as the season went on, which is what typically happens. But I want to emphasize this summer getting to a good start early in the year. I’ve always been a notoriously slow starter… but I really want to focus on that a little bit more. I want to contribute and help these guys more.”
Video: Exit Interviews: Noesen
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