Carolina Hurricanes Sign Juha Jaaska and Jackson Blake, Furthering AHL Speculation

UMD Athletics

On Apr. 8, the Carolina Hurricanes made yet another surprise signing – Juha Jaaska. After over a week of speculation, the organization also announced the signing of Jackson Blake on Apr. 11.

Jaaska is signed to a one-year entry-level deal for the 2024-2025 season. The twenty-six-year-old veteran forward from Finland’s HIFK organization was an associate captain last year, totaling thirty points in fifty-seven games. What made Jaaska’s signing a shock for Carolina fans was both Jaaska’s age and how he wasn’t an official prospect. Jaaska’s signing created an online firestorm of Carolina fans questioning if an AHL deal had been made.

On Apr. 11, the Canes announced the signing of University of North Dakota star forward Jackson Blake. Blake was signed by the organization in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft. This season, Blake scored sixty points in forty games for the NCAA. He was one of three finalists for the 2024 Hobey Baker Award. Blake’s signing has also fueled rumors of a possible AHL deal.

Blake, Scott Morrow, and Bradly Nadeau were present for the team’s open practice on Apr. 11. Blake made a shootout goal in practice, earning cheers from the team and a large crowd in attendance. Morrow played his first NHL game against the Blues on Apr. 12. While he played for nearly thirteen minutes overall, his scorecard post-game indicated that Morrow fits with Carolina’s system, making him a likely fit for the lineup next season – or for Stanley Cup playoffs. While Blake and Nadeau have been at team practices, it is unclear whether they will enter the lineup this season.

Carolina fans have spent the past week speculating about the team’s AHL affiliation status. The team’s current AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, is currently independent from the Hurricanes organization. The team has had their worst season in franchise history since moving from the IHL to the AHL, which furthers speculation if the organization will rebuild with Carolina. Representatives from the Hurricanes, the Wolves, the NHL, and the AHL have been working since Apr. 6, 2023, to remedy the situation. As of Apr. 13, 2024, there is still no announcement of an agreement.

In the summer of 2023, Carolina owner Tom Dundon offered approximately seven million dollars to the AHL for an expansion franchise. The AHL declined the offer, citing a want to “maintain a 1-1 ratio of clubs to the NHL”. Both the NHL and the AHL have likely expansion plans to a 34-team league, especially in the wake of the Arizona/Salt Lake City relocation deal. Suppose this deal still falls under the intended sale that gives approximately ten million dollars to NHL owners. In that case, speculation is that Dundon may bring seventeen million to the AHL for an expansion team in North Carolina or purchase the Wolves entirely.

The Florida Panthers’s current AHL affiliation, the Charlotte Checkers, is also a possible option. While the Checkers and Hurricanes organizations have historically been unfriendly with each other, the Panthers’ time in Charlotte may be coming to a close. While Florida and Charlotte announced a “multi-year” deal in 2020, the length of time was never announced. If the deal is up, location-wise, Charlotte makes the most sense where prospects would get playing time in before their NHL debuts.

On Apr. 11, Carolina’s team reporter Walt Ruff hinted at an AHL affiliate on the organization’s official “Storm Watch” podcast but did not say where, when, or even if a deal has been made. The AHL season comes to a close at the end of April, which may be when a deal is announced.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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