The History of Trade is a mini series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the Carolina Hurricanes trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.
The Carolina Hurricanes franchise dates back a long ways. It goes all the way back to the days when they wore the green and blue jerseys of the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80 season. For a team with some beautiful and questionable jersey options, their trade history is very similar: beautiful and questionable.
Carolina Hurricanes Trade History
For a team from the south with a small fan base, Carolina managed to pull some big name players through their rink. Players like Ron Francis, Mark Howe, and Brendan Shanahan all pulled on either the Whalers or Hurricanes jerseys. But one player who will go down in Hurricanes lore is one they actually acquired through a trade.
Hurricanes acquire Rod Brind’Amour, Jean-Marc Pelletier, and a second round pick in 2000 draft (later traded to Colorado) from Philadelphia for Keith Primeau and a fifth round pick in 2000 (later traded to the New York Islanders)
Keith Primeau is a tough one to judge in this trade. After he arrived in Philadelphia, Primeau had a shortened season in 1999-00. He managed only 17 points in 23 games. But after returning the next season, Primeau put up a career high 34 goals and 73 points. He soon regressed back down to earth the next season and never reached the 20-goal mark or 50-point mark during the remainder of his career. Had he continued the pace he set in 2000-01 this trade would have been different.
The draft pick Carolina got in this deal was soon dealt to the Colorado Avalanche along with Nolan Pratt and two other draft picks for Sandis Ozolinsh and a second round pick. Ozolinsh’s stay in Carolina was brief, but he did manage to put up 67 points in 118 games across two seasons. The return may not have been direct but it bolstered the trade even further.
Pelletier never played a single game for the Hurricanes, but will go down as a piece in their best deal ever.
The main piece to this trade was and still is Rod Brind’Amour. After nine seasons and 601 points in Philadelphia, Brind’Amour was sent to Carolina. He may have been unsure of the situation when he arrived; taking over for a captain can do that to a player. But Brind’Amour soon found home with the new squad and became a fan favourite in no time.
Brind’Amour would go on to become one of the faces of the Hurricanes. He was a perennial Selke Trophy contender, playing one of the smoothest two-way games in recent history. But defense was not his only strength, as he would put up 20 goals on four separate occasions. The highlight of his career came in 2005-06. Brind’Amour and the lowly Hurricanes managed the unthinkable; they won the Stanley Cup. The run was magical and Rod brought his A-game, scoring 12 goals in 25 games to help lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. One of the greatest captain moments in the history of the NHL, Brind’Amour lifted the Cup with his eyes closed high above his head. It was the perfect way to end an unbelievable playoff run.
Carolina wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 2008-09, but that would be the last time Brind’Amour would play for the Cup. He would retire after the 2009-10 season with 473 points to his name as a Hurricane. His impact on the team would go much deeper than points though. He made Carolina a more desirable place for players to go to play and for that this trade becomes even more valuable.
Honourable Mentions: Hartford (Carolina) acquires Pat Verbeek from the New Jersey Devils for Sylvain Turgeon; Carolina trades Danny Markov to the Philadelphia Flyers for Justin Williams; Carolina acquires Jussi Jokinen from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar, and future considerations (2009 fourth round pick, later forfeited)
For their part, the Hurricanes have not been a part of many truly bad trades. Unfortunately, their predecessors were not so lucky. With players like Verbeek and Shanahan being traded away, you would hope to get decent return. Unfortunately the Whalers brass weren’t able to, and in the worst trade, they managed to lowball themselves once again.
Grant Jennings may have been the throw in to this trade. He managed to stay in Pittsburgh for parts of five seasons before being traded to Toronto in 1994-95. Across 210 games in Pittsburgh, Jennings only managed to put up 28 points, including two playoff points in his first year. But Jennings was the beneficiary of the right time and right place, being on the back-to-back Cup winning Penguins teams.
Without the additions of Samuelsson and Francis though, the cups may never have arrived in Pittsburgh. Samuelsson became a fan favourite quickly due to his ferocious play on the blue line. Never a big point producer, Samuelsson reached 20 points in only two seasons while in Pittsburgh. But the Penguins could care less. Samuelsson was never scared to throw his body and created a fear in opponents for his entire career in Pittsburgh.
Francis was the real target for Pittsburgh in this deal. Along with Samuelsson, Francis had been personally successful in Hartford. He managed to put up 70 points or more in every season except his rookie year. Francis even managed to put up 101 points the season prior to the trade. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Francis took very little time to get comfortable. He would finish the season with 11 points in 14 games for the Penguins heading into the playoffs. He helped lift the Cup that year with 17 points during the postseason, finishing sixth on the team in that category.
Francis would find another gear the next postseason. After a mediocre regular season by his standards, Francis would put up a career high 19 assists and 27 points in the postseason. His effort would put him third in team scoring and help the Penguins win their second straight Stanley Cup.
After that, Francis would get back to his regular season success, scoring 100 points the next season. He would finish his Pittsburgh career with 613 regular season points. In the summer of 1998, Ron would sign a new contract with the team that traded him away, although they would be in a new location. The trade helped bring the Cup to Pittsburgh with a team that was just supposed to sneak into the postseason. For Hartford though, it was a much different outcome.
When the trade was made, this deal was not so one sided. In fact, many professional writers and fans alike thought that Hartford go the better side of the deal. To many people’s surprise, including the Whalers, the deal did not turn out that way.
The throw in for the Whalers was Jeff Parker. Parker never actually played for the Penguins prior to the trade, signing with the club a month prior to the deal after not playing all season. He would have very little mention in the history books either. Parker’s Whaler career lasted all of four games and a grand total of zero points. But he was never supposed to be the keys to this trade.
Zarley Zalapski and John Cullen, on the other hand, were. Zalapski, a top five pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, had very high expectations in Pittsburgh. He managed to produce on the offensive end with no issues, racking up 112 goals in his first three seasons with the Pens. Zalapski would add 48 more points before being sent to the Whalers. He would have some offensive success in Hartford as well, but his stay was fairly short. After just parts of four seasons, including 165 points, Zalapski was traded to Calgary in hopes of improving their blue line. It was to no avail and Zalapski will go down as a disappointment in this trade.
But neither of the aforementioned pieces can compare to the return the Whalers got for Cullen. The season prior to the trade, Cullen became a force to be feared in the NHL. He put up 32 goals and 92 points in his sophomore year, intriguing many general managers around the league. The following season Cullen never slowed down. Through 65 games prior to the trade, he had already managed to put up 94 points in 65 games. It was beginning to look like he was going to become a star in the league for years.
When the Penguins general manager Craig Patrick offered the then 26-year-old to the Whalers it was impossible to turn down. The Whalers were struggling to get fans to embrace the team and buy tickets. They believed Cullen could be the answer. He was young, fast and could score in bunches. The Whalers brass thought the fans would be crawling over each other to buy tickets. Things didn’t exactly work out that way. The following season Cullen would only manage 77 points, still a team high by a wide margin. That season would end up being Cullen’s first and only full season in Hartford though as the following year, after only 19 games, Cullen was traded to the Maple Leafs for a second round pick.
The final nail in the Whalers coffin may have been losing Francis and Samuelsson. The Whalers would last only four more seasons in Hartford before being moved 1,007 kilometres southwest to Raleigh, North Carolina. They became the Carolina Hurricanes and have gone on to win the Stanley Cup once. But the questions remain if things would have been different had Francis and Samuelsson not been traded away.
Dishonourable Mentions: Whalers trade Mark Howe and a 1983 third round pick (Derrick Smith) to the Philadelphia Flyers for Greg Adams, Ken Linseman, 1983 first round pick (David Jensen), and 1983 third round pick (Leif Carlsson); Whalers trade Pat Verbeek to the New York Rangers for Glen Featherstone, Michael Stewart, 1995 first round pick (Jean-Sebastien Giguere), and 1996 fourth round pick (Steve Wasylko); Whalers acquire Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and a 1997 first round pick (Nikos Tselios) from the Detroit Brenda Shanahan and Brian Glynn