Sault Ste. Marie native Ron Francis is poised to become an unrestricted free agent as of July 1. The 39-year old centre led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup finals this spring, an improbable run which finally ended with a loss to the NHL champion Detroit Red Wings. Francis signed a four-year contract worth $20 million with the Hurricanes in 1998 after seven seasons and two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is coming off his best season ever with the Hurricanes, in which he notched 27 goals and 77 points in 80 games before adding another 16 points in 21 playoff contests. In a telephone interview with SooToday.com on Monday, Francis said he is looking for a two-year contract and would like to remain with Carolina. "That would be the simple way," he said. "If they make me a fair offer, I'd like to stay right here," he said from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Francis, a former Soo Greyhound, won his third Lady Byng Trophy last week as the NHL's most gentlemanly player. He also won the award twice while with Pittsburgh. A first-round pick of the Hartford Whalers in 1981, Francis has played 21 seasons in the NHL. He was traded from Hartford to Pittsburgh late during the 90-91 season as Whalers' general manager Eddie Johnston made one of the worst trades in NHL history. Ironically, the Hartford franchise moved to Carolina in 1998, the same year Francis left Pittsburgh to sign as a free agent with the Hurricanes.