There is an old saying out there that a team should not trade within their own division. The Carolina Hurricanes have done it a few times though, and have had some pretty good success to date.
This season, the team is hoping to hit pay dirt again with another couple of trades within the division, this time with the Florida Panthers. Recently, the Hurricanes traded Ryan Carter and a fifth round draft pick for Cory Stillman, then sent Sergei Samsonov to the Panthers in exchange for defenseman Bryan Allen.
The last time, and the only other time the Hurricanes dealt with the Panthers was in January of 2002 when they traded Sandis Ozolinsh and Byron Ritchie to the Cats for Bret Hedican, Kevyn Adams, and Tomas Malec. How did that work out?
Ritchie was a utility player who had about the same success in Florida as he had in Carolina. Ozolinsh was a very highly paid, offensive minded defenseman who never fit in well with Paul Maurice's system. But while he scored more points in Florida after the trade, the Panthers traded him again the very next season to Anaheim for a package that included Matt Cullen, of all players.
While Malec, who was a prospect, never panned out for the Canes, Hedican and Adams both fit in immediately and turned out to be fixtures of the team for years to come, including in the Stanley Cup winning year in 2006.
In 2002, Jim Rutherford traded skill for character. Hedican and Adams weren't high scoring or flashy, but they were blood and guts types who strengthened the resolve of the team and they were both positive contributors all the way to the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.
Cory Stillman and Bryan Allen are not Bret Hedican and Kevyn Adams, but this trade is similar in that Rutherford was able to bring in quick fixes to what the team needs.
Stillman has already been a shot in the arm to the offense and has four points, (2G 2A), in just five games. So far Allen is showing an abundance of the toughness the team has been craving, especially while on the penalty kill.
Perhaps even more importantly, like Adams and Hedican, both of these players are character guys who bring intangible qualities with them. Will that be enough to help the Hurricanes get into the playoffs and have postseason success? We will see.
Speaking of inter-divisional trades, in March of that same year Rutherford traded fan favorites Chris Dingman and Shane Willis to Tampa Bay in exchange for a young, but pretty well-traveled goalie Kevin Weekes. Some fans were not very happy about that trade until Weekes turned out to be a major factor in the first round win against the New Jersey Devils.
The backup replaced workhorse Arturs Irbe in the series and put together two straight playoff shutouts. He also made what is still known as "The Save" on John Madden, in an overtime win against those Devils.
Perhaps Carolina should do a bit more trading in the future within the division?