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Carolina Hurricanes Top 20 At 20: The Best of the Rest

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The countdown is done, but we aren’t done taking a look back at the Canes of the past.

Penguins V Hurricanes

For the final installment of the Top 20 At 20, we look at some of the honorable mention players who didn’t quite crack the full list but made a name for themselves while with the Carolina Hurricanes over the years. Among the players included today are two former captains, a winner of a reality show, and a defenseman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Huey Lewis and/or Henry Rollins.


Keith Primeau

Brian: Keith Primeau

Brian’s rank: 12
Consensus rank: 24
Years with Canes: 1997-1999
Scoring totals: 56 goals, 69 assists, 125 points in 159 games
How acquired: From Detroit to Hartford with Paul Coffey and a first round pick for Brendan Shanahan and Brian Glynn, 10/9/1996

Before Erik Cole, before Rod Brind’Amour, before Jordan Staal, there was Keith Primeau. It can be argued, with apologies to Cole, that Primeau was a power forward the likes of which the Canes haven’t seen since he forced his way out of town in 1999. Primeau led the Hurricanes in scoring both years he was in Carolina, scoring 30 goals while leading the Canes to a Southeast Division title in 1999. He served in a leadership role in both seasons, first as an alternate under Kevin Dineen then as the team captain in the 1998-99 season. The holdout he engineered in 1999, a not-unheard of tactic in the late-1990s NHL, left a bitter taste in the mouths of Canes fans, but between his performance on the ice and the fact that he eventually was flipped for a Cup-winning captain, he is the defining player of the Hurricanes’ formative years. - Brian LeBlanc


Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes: Game 7

Peter: Josef Vasicek

Peter’s rank: 17
Consensus rank: 25
Years with Canes: 2000-2006, 2007
Scoring totals: 57 goals, 78 assists, 135 points in 341 games
How acquired: Canes’ fourth-round (91st overall) pick, 1998 NHL Entry Draft

The former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound came into the League relatively quietly in the fourth round of the '98 draft, but quickly became a favorite in Raleigh. Vasicek’s towering stature (6' 5", 214 lbs) earned him the nickname "Big Joe" and while his play may not have yielded record-breaking numbers, he was a key member of both Stanley Cup runs. Vasicek's strongest season came in the only one (2003-04) that saw him participate in all 82 games, where he put up 19 goals and 26 assists to lead the team with 45 points. He was part of a trade with Nashville to obtain Scott Walker in the summer of 2006, but rejoined the Canes eight months later in exchange for Eric Belanger. Vasicek may never have been an electrifying scorer or playmaker, but he worked well as a glue player with some solid offensive touch. Upon his departure from the NHL in 2008, Vasicek signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. Sadly, he lost his life in the tragic 2011 airplane crash that wiped out nearly the entire Lokomotiv team. The Canes have honored his memory by renaming their “Good Guy Award” for Vasicek, recognizing the player who is most cooperative with the media. - Peter Dewar


HURRICANES V SENATORS DINEEN

Matt: Kevin Dineen

Matt’s rank: 14
Consensus rank: 27
Years with Canes: 1997-1999
Scoring totals: 15 goals, 26 assists, 41 points in 121 games played
How acquired: From Philadelphia to Hartford for 3rd and 7th round picks, 12/28/1995

The first captain of the Hurricanes, Kevin Dineen bookended two eras of franchise history: not only was he the last player to score for the Hartford Whalers, he also scored the first goal in Carolina Hurricanes history. Although he only played two seasons with the Hurricanes, he was a vital part of helping the team relocate, giving them credibility both with fans and with the rest of the league during the Greensboro years when things could have gone south easily. Dineen gave up his captaincy to Primeau before the 1998 season, and signed as a free agent with the Senators the following offseason. He never played in Raleigh, but the work ethic the Canes still hold today can be drawn in a straight line through Rod Brind’Amour and right back to Dineen. - Matt Krombach


Canadiens v Hurricanes Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images/NHLI

Cody: Bates Battaglia

Cody’s rank: 18
Consensus rank: 26
Years with Canes: 1997-2003
Scoring totals: 63 goals, 87 assists, 150 points in 402 games
How acquired: From Anaheim to Hartford with a 4th round pick for Mark Janssens, 3/18/1997

A old forgotten fan favorite, Bates Battaglia is best known for his accomplishments during the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals run. Never an overwhelming offensive threat during the regular season, Battaglia put up 14 points in 23 games during that playoff run and that season became known as the third part of the BBC line, along with Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour. He eclipsed 400 games with the Hurricanes and was the early 2000’s version of Chad LaRose. After being traded to Colorado in 2003, he bounced around the NHL until 2008. Battaglia now owns a popular bar in Raleigh and seems to be very successful off the ice. Alongside his brother, Anthony, Battaglia was part of the winning team on season 22 of the CBS show Amazing Race in 2013. - Cody Hagan


Hurricanes v Capitals

Kevin: Sean Hill

Kevin’s rank: 15
Consensus rank: 21
Years with Canes: 1997-2000; 2001-2004
Scoring totals: 38 goals, 119 assists, 157 points in 369 games
How acquired: From Ottawa for Chris Murray, 11/18/97; From St. Louis for Steve Halko and a fourth-round pick, 12/5/01

Hill arrived from Ottawa in 1997 and served two separate stints for the Hurricanes as a point-producing, hard nosed defenseman in the late 90's and early 2000's. Statistically, he ranks in a tie for second all-time among Hurricanes defensemen in assists with 119, and third in penalty minutes with 441. In six seasons, Hill posted three seasons of 29 points or more, including a career high 44-point season in 1999-2000 in just 62 games. The University of Wisconsin product was a key cog in the Canes’ 2002 run to the Stanley Cup Final after rejoining the team in December and playing terrific hockey down the stretch, posting 30 points in 49 games. During their 23-game playoff run that season, Hill played just under 26 minutes per night, adding eight points and 57 shots for Carolina. - Kevin LeBlanc


Jamie Kellner

Kyle: Joni Pitkanen

Kyle’s rank: 11
Consensus rank: 23
Years with Canes: 2008-2013
Scoring totals: 24 goals, 116 assists, 140 points in 266 games
How acquired: From Edmonton for Erik Cole, 7/1/2008

Behind Glen Wesley and Justin Faulk, I firmly believe that it’s Pitkanen who is the third best defenseman in team history, at least for now. The Finn spent five years in the sightless eye and put up 140 points in 266 games. He was also tasked with playing the role of a number one defenseman on some pretty weak defensive units, averaging over 27 minutes per game in 2009-2010 and over 25 in 2010-2011. It’s possible that Pitkanen was a little bit ahead of his time, as the league didn’t really come to appreciate smooth-skating defensemen with outstanding passing abilities as much until after his highly unfortunate and ultimately career-ending injury in the lockout shortened season in 2013. Pitkanen is still a part of the organization to this day, as he currently works as an amateur scout over in Europe. - Kyle Morton