With the core group of Hurricanes prospects trending younger each season, the organization may again be in search of free agents who can come in to provide the kind of veteran leadership that Flood, the oldest (29) and most experienced (nine professional seasons) member of last year’s team, was happy to provide.
Does that mean the unrestricted free agent will stay on board to continue his second tour of duty with Carolina, having also played three years for its previous AHL affiliate in Albany from 2006-09?
- Broke Bobby Sanguinetti's club records for most goals (13 - fourth AHL) and power-play goals (eight - third AHL) by a defenseman in a single season
- Led Checkers defensemen with 31 points in 74 games
- Became first defenseman to score a goal in his Checkers debut (Oct. 4)
- Went 22 consecutive games without taking a penalty from Nov. 2-Dec. 29
- Completed his ninth professional season, eight of which were played at least partially in the AHL
Much like last summer, when the Hurricanes signed Flood and fellow experienced defenseman Matt Corrente to one-year deals on the same day, the organization won’t necessarily need reinforcements in the way of pure numbers. In terms of prospects already under contract for next season, the Checkers could already field a top six of Danny Biega, Keegan Lowe, Beau Schmitz, Austin Levi, Dennis Robertson and Trevor Carrick and call it a day.
The issue is that three of those players are coming off their rookie seasons (Biega, Lowe and Levi) and two will be playing their rookie seasons (Robertson and Carrick). Though he’ll be a third-year pro, Schmitz has only played 44 games at the AHL level. In addition to being a younger-than-ideal mix for the Checkers, it could also leave the Hurricanes thin in terms of potential recalls.
That situation would seem to work in the favor or players like Flood, Corrente and restricted free agents Michal Jordan and Rasmus Rissanen. Flood has some NHL experience, having played a total of 39 games with the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets over the last five seasons, not to mention a full campaign in Russia.
Aside from the leadership, character and experience, there are also his 13 goals, which set a franchise record and ranked fourth in the AHL, to consider. Eight of those came on the power play as his ability to time his cuts to the net and get shots through traffic was a consistent boost to a man-advantage unit that was among the league’s best all season. On the flip side, he sat out one game as a healthy extra during a February losing streak, while his minus-26 rating was among the lowest in the AHL. The Hurricanes did not recall him at any point, though the same could be said of every other defenseman who began the year in Charlotte.
The combination of factors leaves Flood with a lot to consider moving forward.
“I’ve thought about going back to Europe and I’ve thought about trying something else, but I did enjoy my time here too. It’s a blank page for me.”