Will dynamic Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas return to Raleigh? What we know

Martin Necas was out the door quickly.

Soon after the New York Rangers knocked the Carolina Hurricanes out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Necas was on a plane to Czechia to play for his home country in the 2024 World Championship. The winger made his way to Prague and was in Czechia’s national team lineup Tuesday against Canada.

The question now: Will Necas be back?

To the NHL, yes. At 25, with his speed and skill, he can be a top-six forward on many NHL teams. Chances are, he might get a shot at playing center for an NHL team.

But there is increasing speculation that he won’t be doing that with the Hurricanes, who selected Necas in the first-round of the 2017 NHL Draft. With all the Canes’ offseason moves and roster decisions, it’s possible Necas could have a new landing spot and a new start elsewhere.

Necas just finished a two-year contract, signed in August 2022, that paid him $3 million a year. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he had 24 goals and 53 points in 77 games — an offensive dip from 2022-23, when he led the Canes with 71 points.

Necas had four goals and nine points in the Canes’ 11 playoff games, scoring in each of the last two games against the Rangers in the second round.

“He’s an exceptionally skilled player that has a lot more to give in my own opinion,” Canes president and general manager Don Waddell said Monday. “We’ll figure out something with him.

“I don’t have enough toes and fingers to tell you how many players have walked into my office about being traded,” Waddell added. “We’re not opposed always to trading players, but you also have to look at the value of what you’re getting back for players. Marty’s an exceptionally skilled guy that you’re just not going to give up on, that’s for sure.”

Necas left town so quickly he was not available for the end-of-season media interviews this past weekend. A Czech Ice Hockey official said only media accredited to cover the IIHF World Championship are allowed to speak to members of the national team during the international event.

Others have spoken for him. Necas’ father, Martin, in an interview with Denik Sport, said his son wants to play for a team on the top line and top power-play unit. Necas, used up and down the lineup for the Canes in his four full NHL seasons, was on a line centered by Jack Drury in the playoffs and on the second power-play unit.

Czechia goalie Petr Mrazek, once with the Hurricanes, spoke to and said playing for the Czech national team in the Worlds would allow Necas the chance to again show off “all his qualities.” Mrazek, playing for Czechia in the Worlds, indicated some of those qualities were not always on display in the Canes’ system.

Waddell said Monday the Canes would like to add a right-shot center to the roster for next season. Necas, drafted as a center, is a right shot, but has not played that position for Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour, who requires sound defensive play and faceoff proficiency from his centers — captain Jordan Staal setting the standard.

Asked Monday about the comments attributed to Necas’ father, Waddell said, “I love the parents but I want to talk to parents about their kids, not about their contracts. We’re gonna deal with this one.”

Waddell quipped: “Say ‘Hi’ to his dad for me.”

In an interview in March before the NHL trade deadline, with his name then prominent in social media trade chatter, Necas talked of the uncertainty involved.

“You never know what can happen, you know,” he said. “Maybe I will be with some other team. ...

“You never know. You just try to play your best and whatever happens, happens.”