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The Carolina Hurricanes and the Trade Deadline: After every storm there is a rainbow

The trade deadline had long been a time of disappointment for the Carolina Hurricanes, but after a near decade of dreading it, it’s now a time Canes fans are looking forward to.

Switzerland v USA - German Ice Hockey Cup 2011 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

There are three unfortunate truths about the NHL trade deadline.

  1. Your favorite team probably will not end up with that one player you’ve been really coveting and advocating for on social media the past month
  2. They will overpay for a minor addition.
  3. If your team is bad, you are losing your favorite players.

This season, there is also a fourth unfortunate truth.

  1. Nobody wants to make trades because of quarantining periods and lack of knowledge on how they will perform outside of their division.

So with the trade deadline only two weeks away, the odds aren’t great for a blockbuster move, but that may be the best thing for the Hurricanes.

It’s no secret that Carolina likes its group. They say it every time any reporter mentions a trade rumor or asks about deadline plans. “We like our group.” And for the most part, I agree with them.

They have a great top six, excellent depth, a solid defensive corps and an emerging netminder.

However, injuries in just the wrong spots have taken a bit of fuel out of the Canes’ “To the Moon” rocket.

Their number one netminder, Petr Mrazek, has missed essentially the entire season, their top-six has taken a massive blow on both ends of the ice with Vincent Trocheck and Teuvo Teravainen’s absences, and Jake Gardiner was playing his best hockey as a Hurricane before going down.

When everyone is healthy, I’d take the Hurricanes versus any team in the league. But now, thanks to those few key injuries, I’m a bit more hesitant to bet on Carolina versus the world.

As such, it may be imperative for the Canes to make a deadline move if only to bring in some injury insurance.

But today, we take a look at the past deadlines that the Hurricanes have taken part in.

Historically, the trade deadline hasn’t been a happy time for Hurricanes fans. With only seven seasons having actually qualified for the playoffs — less than a third of their total in North Carolina — it wasn’t often that the team was buyers at the deadline.

Unfortunately, most years saw the team shedding off salaries of players mostly for mediocre returns.

But there were quite a few all in years that gave the Hurricanes some good runs.

In 2002, the team traded Shane Willis and Chris Dingman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Kevin Weekes, who formed a dynamite tandem with Artus Irbe, helping take the team to their first Stanley Cup Final.

In 2006, the Hurricanes acquired Mark Recchi from Pittsburgh and Doug Weight from St. Louis for quite a few pieces, but their veteran leadership and still capable play provided the boost Carolina needed to take it all.

The Canes didn’t go full sell mode when they missed the playoffs the next two seasons, opting more for player swaps until they finally managed to get another berth at the playoffs in 2009.

That year the team acquired both Jussi Jokinen and Erik Cole, adding to the pickups of Tuomo Ruutu, Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves in 2008 and Dennis Seidenberg in 2007.

That team would get back-to-back upsets over the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins before falling to the eventual cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

And then that’s when the dark years happened.

Year after year of mediocre seasons and watching other teams be excited for the deadline and speculating on the players they might acquire. Meanwhile Hurricanes fans just wallowed in their disappointment.

The team had gone through a few tough sells before with franchise legends like Glen Wesley in 2003 and Ron Francis in 2004, but the continuous selling off of players year after year was like death by a thousand cuts and eventually it became numbing.

The first season of the long dark was 2010 and saw the trading away of a number of players, including Matt Cullen, Aaron Ward, Scott Walker and Joe Corvo.

In 2011 it was Sergei Samsonov, though the Hurricanes, in a playoff push at the time, did bring in Cory Stillman and Bryan Allen (for Samsonov).

The two team favorite Finns were lost in back to back years starting with Jussi Jokinen in 2013 and then Tuomo Ruutu in 2014.

Another trio of players was lost in 2015 seeing Tim Gleason, Jiri Tlusty and Andrej Sekera traded away.

Maybe one of the toughest years to swallow was 2016. That year saw the team captain and franchise player Eric Staal as well as John Michael Liles and Kris Versteeg sent out.

There was no relief in 2017 as that time it was Viktor Stalberg and Ron Hainsey leaving.

And finally in 2018, the team battled in the race for the playoffs till the end, but no help was brought in and the team faltered out in the end.

But after every storm comes a rainbow, and the Hurricanes have been enjoying a steady growth in the league since 2018, leading to them being one of the top teams today.

For the third year in a row, Carolina is going to be a buyer at the trade deadline, ready for its third straight playoff appearance, which would be the first time in team history.

Every deadline under Don Waddell has been building up to the Hurricanes’ roster not just with rental players, but good players with term left on their contracts that have bolstered the group to new levels.

In their first season back to the playoffs, Waddell fleeced the Minnesota Wild in his only pre-deadline move that season to improve their forward group.

Victor Rask for Nino Niederreiter. One-for-one.

The move instantly paid off for the Canes as Niederreier registered 14 goals and 30 points in 36 games, helping Carolina sneak into the playoffs by just three points and thereby snapping their nine-year drought.

The Hurricanes rode that magic to an Eastern Conference Finals berth before falling to the Boston Bruins.

The next season was a bit more unsteady. The Hurricanes had lost Dougie Hamilton to a broken leg and Brett Pesce was in need of shoulder surgery. Both netminders had also been injured in a game in Toronto. Even worse, the Canes’ depth scoring had all dried up outside the SAT line.

Don Waddell didn’t panic though. He got on the phone and came back with potentially the biggest deadline in franchise history.

The first move was the most shocking and biggest by far. From the Florida Panthers, the Hurricanes acquired Vincent Trocheck for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen and Chase Priskie.

Then the defensive help came.

From the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes acquired a needed rental in Sami Vatanen in exchange for Janne Kuokkanen, Frederik Claesson and a conditional pick that eventually became a 2020 third-round pick.

Many were already amazed by the boldness of the moves made that afternoon. A number two centerman and an offensive defensemen, but then another move came flying in from left-field.

The Canes traded a 2020 first-round pick for Brady Skjei.

The Hurricanes came out swinging that day. They gave away two roster players, a first-round pick and three prospects to fill in the gaps on defense and pick up that long sought after 2C.

Then the NHL shut down for a few months and when it returned the Hurricanes lost in the first round of the playoffs.

So in terms of working out in the immediate, that was a miss.

But in terms of now? Well… at least one of them has certainly worked out.

Trocheck had a slow start with Carolina, but now looks every bit like the player everyone expected him to be and fits perfectly as the 2C the Hurricane have needed.

Trocheck has been a go to in all situations for the Canes and was the teams scoring leader before his injury on a point per game pace.

Vatanen, the modern day James Wisniewski, played in only seven playoff games for the Canes, and wasn’t good, so that one was a complete waste, but at the time, the Canes desperately needed a replacement for Hamilton.

Brady Skjei on the other hand is a contentious topic.

Skjei was sought out as a puck-moving defensemen with term when the Canes got him.

He now has three years left on his contract at a $5.25 million AAV, and will have a modified no-trade clause kick in next season.

So far though, Skjei has seen his struggles in Carolina, being a ways away from the offensive defensemen he was in New York.

But his overall defensive game has made improvements under Dean Chynoweth and Rod Brind’Amour, especially on the penalty kill. However, I feel it still doesn’t equate out to his overall cost. Not to mention that it cost a first-round pick to acquire him.

However, most new acquisitions to the Carolina blueline take a full season to really reach their potential so his fate is still up in the air.

Will the Hurricanes look to add another long-term piece to their roster this deadline, or have they reached the point where rental players are what they are looking for? Will they even make a deal?

Only time will tell, but whatever happens, at least the team has made the trade deadline a time to be excited rather than dreaded.