Jake Guentzel opens up on possibility of re-signing with Hurricanes

Will Jake Guentzel run it back in Raleigh?

Jake Guentzel was phenomenal for the Carolina Hurricanes in both the team’s 2023-24 regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff run — but the veteran, along with the organization, came up short of the ultimate goal after losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference second-round.

Now set to become an unrestricted free agent, the 29-year-old has a big decision to make about his National Hockey League future. And based on his latest comments, it looks like there’s a legitimate chance the longtime Pittsburgh Penguins forward will decide to call Raleigh home long-term.

“I loved my experience here,” Guentzel said on Saturday, according to NHL.com’s Kurt Dusterberg. “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.”

Guentzel didn’t miss a beat after being traded from the Penguins to the Hurricanes, returning from injury for Carolina’s last 17 regular-season games and putting up an eye-opening eight goals and 25 points in that span.

He also added four goals and nine points over 11 postseason tilts, as the Canes lost to the Rangers in Game 6 of Round 2 at home. And although the team fell short of a championship yet again in 2024, Guentzel believes this core has what it takes to eventually get the job done.

“This team for sure can win the Stanley Cup,” Guentzel explained, per Dusterberg. “I think it’s right there. This puts you in a good spot to do that. I want to do that 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.”

Carolina Hurricanes center Jake Guentzel (59) skates during warmups before game four against the New York Rangers in the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs in at PNC Arena.

It certainly looks like Guentzel is open to the possibility of re-signing, but that becomes tricky with nine players set to become UFAs on July 1.

Jake Guentzel headlines significant Hurricanes UFA group

Guentzel joins a large class of pending unrestricted free agents in 2024, that also includes Teuvo Teravainen, Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce, Tony DeAngelo, Stefan Noesen, Jordan Martinook, Jalen Chatfield and Antti Raanta.

And it seems like none of them want to leave Carolina.

“I’ve had such a good time here,” said Teravainen, who won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. “All these people and this team have been awesome. Everything is good, so hopefully I can stay. You never know. It’s a new situation for me right now.”

“I love it here. It’s an amazing place. Great players, great guys. It’s a fun place to be for sure,” echoed Skjei, who was a key piece of the defensive core in 2023-24.

“I’m hopeful we can work something out here,” said his D-partner Pesce. “Everyone knows I love it here. I love the guys. I can speak for [Skjei] too. We both want to be back. It’s pretty obvious.”

But there’s only so much money to go around, and it’ll be impossible for general manager Don Waddell and the front office to keep all nine pending UFAs. It probably goes without saying that Guentzel is the most important one of them to get locked up if the Canes hope to remain Stanley Cup contenders.

The five-year, $30 million contract that Guentzel signed with the Penguins is about to expire, and he’ll be due for a significant raise in 2024-25 and beyond. That will make for some difficult negotiations.

Without a doubt, this Hurricanes roster is going to look quite a bit different next season. And it’ll be intriguing to see if Jake Guentzel is part of the club’s long-term plans as it continues to chase a first Stanley Cup since 2006.

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