Carolina Hurricanes’ 5 Best Trades in Franchise History

One of every hockey fan’s favorite things to do is to analyze trades and pick a winner and a loser. Despite the natural tendency to choose a side, a trade will often benefit both teams involved. But these five transactions executed by the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise were indisputable victories – both for the success of the team and for the legacies each player left behind.

5. Bret Hedican for Sandis Ozolinsh

To Carolina Hurricanes: D Bret Hedican, C Kevyn Adams, D Tomas Malec, 2003 2nd-round pick
To Florida Panthers: D Sandis Ozolinsh, C Byron Ritchie
Date: Jan. 16, 2002

It almost feels like Bret Hedican played more than just six seasons for the Hurricanes, but perhaps it’s a testament that his impact was greater than his tenure. Hedican was Carolina’s top defenseman for much of his stay, leading all Hurricanes blueliners in ice time in 2005-06, the year they won the Stanley Cup.

Brett Hedican Carolina Hurricanes
Brett Hedican of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates winning the 2006 Stanley Cup. (Courtesy Carolina Hurricanes Media Archives)

It was his third Stanley Cup Final appearance, and second with the Hurricanes, but first ever Stanley Cup win in his career, which he accomplished alongside Kevyn Adams, the secondary piece in the trade that brought them to Carolina.

The third player going the Hurricanes’ way, defenseman Tomas Malec, only suited up for 43 games but was flipped to the Anaheim Ducks in 2004 for goaltender Martin Gerber, who backstopped the Hurricanes to the best regular season in their history in 2005-06.

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This trade was an all-around win for Carolina, as Ozolinsh, a 29-year-old offensive defenseman, had his point totals trail off each passing year, which eventually thrust him into a whirlwind of trades. As for Byron Ritchie, he played a few more seasons in a minor role for the Panthers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. He retired from the NHL in 2008 with 58 points in 324 games.

4. Pat Verbeek for Sylvain Turgeon

To Hartford Whalers: RW Pat Verbeek
To New Jersey Devils: LW Sylvain Turgeon
Date: June 17, 1989

Capitalizing off one of the greatest rookie seasons in Hurricanes/Whalers history, the Whalers sold high on their 1983 second-overall pick Sylvain Turgeon. The speedy winger scored a franchise record 40 goals in his first NHL season and later built upon his point-per-game numbers, scoring 45 goals and 79 points in 1985-86 with Hartford.

Turgeon is also one of those highly skilled players who unfortunately had his career derailed by injuries. Following six seasons in Hartford, the Whalers rang the New Jersey Devils and set up a deal, exchanging him for Pat Verbeek in the summer of 1989.

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While Turgeon’s injuries and inconsistencies slowly whittled down his career, Verbeek was invigorated by the change in scenery. In his first season with the Whalers, he set career highs in goals (44), assists (45), and points (89). For the next six years, Verbeek was one of their top contributors, leading the team twice in scoring, and totaling 403 points in 433 games.

Pat Verbeek Hartford Whalers
Pat Verbeek Hartford Whalers (Courtesy Carolina Hurricanes Media Archives)

Of the five teams he played for, Verbeek scored the most points with the Whalers, who he also captained for three seasons from 1992 until his trade to the New York Rangers in March 1995. To this day, he remains sixth in franchise history in points, and third in penalty minutes (1,144).

3. Teuvo Teravainen for Draft Picks

To Carolina Hurricanes: F Teuvo Teravainen, LW Bryan Bickell
To Chicago Blackhawks: 2016 2nd-round pick, 2017 3rd-round pick
Date: June 15, 2016

No need to turn back the calendar too far for this trade, which is probably still fresh in a lot of Chicago Blackhawks fans’ minds. With their cap situation spiraling out of control, trading Bryan Bickell’s $4-million cap hit became a priority. Packaged with the veteran winger was Teuvo Teravainen, a young Finnish forward who was still on an entry-level contract, and the main target for the Hurricanes.

A 2012 first-round pick, Teravainen has blossomed into one of the NHL’s elite playmakers, scoring a career-high 76 points with Carolina in 2018-19. In 2019-20, he contributed 63 points in 68 games as one of the Hurricanes’ most valuable players. Despite his achievements, he still has a habit of flying under the radar, but his ability to play any forward position, combined with his versatility to log top power play and penalty kill minutes makes him an invaluable game-changer for the Hurricanes.

Teuvo Teravainen Carolina Hurricanes
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This is a trade the Blackhawks likely regret, as the Hurricanes were able to sign Teravainen to a comfortable five-year, $27-million contract in Jan. 2019. Chicago also parted ways with superstar Artemi Panarin just one year following the Teravainen trade, marking two stud forwards the Blackhawks were unable to retain.

The two picks Chicago acquired in the trade became Russian forward Artur Kayumov (50th overall), and American center Evan Barratt (90th overall). Kayumov just recently signed a two-year contract with the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, which will keep him in Russia through 2021-22. Barratt, now 20, has impressed in his past two seasons with Penn State University, scoring 71 points in 58 games during that span.

2. Justin Williams for Danny Markov

To Carolina Hurricanes: RW Justin Williams
To Philadelphia Flyers: D Danny Markov
Date: Jan. 20, 2004

When Justin Williams was traded to the Hurricanes in Jan. 2004, he probably had no idea just how successful and revered he would soon become in the city of Raleigh. Nobody thought the 22-year-old kid from Cobourg, Ontario would one day become a cornerstone in Carolina and ingrain himself in Hurricanes history, but it didn’t take long for Williams to get comfortable with the ‘Canes, and the fans were quick to warm to him as well.

Justin Williams Carolina Hurricanes
Justin Williams, Carolina Hurricanes, Mar. 1, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Williams enjoyed his best career season in 2005-06, which was his first full season with the Hurricanes. He scored 76 points in 82 games and chipped in 18 more in 25 playoff games en route to the Hurricanes’ first and only Stanley Cup championship.

Success followed Williams even when he left the Hurricanes after five years. He won two more Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, and won a Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013-14 after a spectacular playoff performance in which he tallied 25 points in 26 games.

Justin Williams Los Angeles
Justin Williams, LA Kings (Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)

Williams returned to the Hurricanes as a free agent in July 2017, and captained the Hurricanes to the Eastern Conference Final in 2018-19. His heroic return to the lineup in 2019-20 only further cemented how important he is to the Hurricanes with his experience and astoundingly successful track record.

The Hurricanes were a noticeably different team when Williams was in the picture. As one of the best leaders and most respected people in hockey’s recent history, he’s the kind of guy every contending team craves.

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As for Markov, he bounced around the league for the next few years, never making anywhere near the kind of impact Williams had in Carolina. The Russian defenseman played just 158 more NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings before concluding the second-half of his career in Russia.

1. Rod Brind’Amour for Keith Primeau

To Carolina Hurricanes: C Rod Brind’Amour, G Jean-Marc Pelletier, 2000 2nd-round pick (D Agris Saviels)
To Philadelphia Flyers: C Keith Primeau, 5th-round pick (RW Kristofer Ottosson)
Date: Jan. 23, 2000

It’s certainly no coincidence that Rod Brind’Amour finds himself on almost every list that includes words like “greatest”, “Hurricanes” and “history” in its title – he’s really just that good. He’s perhaps the greatest and most significant man to ever ingratiate himself with the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise.

Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes (Carolina Hurricanes Media Archives)

Brind’Amour’s journey with the Hurricanes began 21 years ago, on Jan. 23, 2000, when he was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers as the main return of the trade that saw the departure of then-captain Keith Primeau.

Primeau’s tenure with the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise was brief. He played three seasons with the club, sandwiched between six-year stints with the Detroit Red Wings and Flyers, surviving during the team’s transition from Hartford to Carolina. With three seasons of 25-plus goals, he seemed poised to take on a major role with the Hurricanes as they struggled through massive organizational changes, but this shift, and many months of contract disputes, led to his departure.

While the awkward state of the Carolina franchise contributed to Primeau’s withdrawal, Brind’Amour seemed to thrive in it. Defensively elite, offensively gifted and with a work ethic second to none, Brind’Amour committed to the Hurricanes after an initially difficult transition from Philadelphia, where he played 633 games over nine seasons.

He stabilized the Hurricane squad by becoming a calming veteran presence behind captain Ron Francis. Together, they posed a heavy challenge down the middle for many of the Hurricanes’ early years.

Just two seasons after the trade, the Hurricanes reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, losing in five games to the juggernaut Detroit Red Wings. The run seemed to inspire the city of Raleigh while the hunger for a Stanley Cup remained – the Hurricanes now knew they could win a championship. Just three seasons later, after Francis had retired and Brind’Amour had assumed the captaincy, the Hurricanes improbably won the Stanley Cup.

After all of Brind’Amour’s accolades – a Stanley Cup, two Selke Trophies, an All-Star nomination, six years of captaincy and his No. 17 jersey hanging in the rafters at PNC Arena – who’s to say there aren’t still more achievements to come? In just his first season as a head coach, Brind’Amour piloted a team of scrappy underdogs to the Eastern Conference Final, and it still looks like his best years are yet to come.

It’s hard to find anyone who has contributed more to Carolina hockey than Brind’Amour has. He’s the man responsible for the identity the Hurricanes have developed and one of the reasons why hockey has been so successful in Raleigh. From player to captain to coach, he has been an exceptional leader who sets a great example for how to put in the work and achieve greatness, but still stresses the importance of enjoying the ride.

For all the trades the Hurricanes have made throughout the years, there has been no other deal that made as great of an everlasting impact than the decision to bring Brind’Amour into the fold.

Honorable Mention: Mark Recchi

To Carolina Hurricanes: Mark Recchi
To Pittsburgh Penguins: C Krystofer Kolanos, LW Niklas Nordgren, 2007 2nd-round pick (D Kevin Marshall)
Date: March 9, 2006

Mark Recchi Carolina Hurricanes
Mark Recchi, Carolina Hurricanes (Courtesy Carolina Hurricanes Media Archives)

Purely based on results, the deadline deal to capture Mark Recchi was huge in helping the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in 2005-06. Was he the deciding reason the Hurricanes won? Maybe not. But his 16 points in 25 playoff games certainly didn’t go unnoticed, because that included six points in the seven-game Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers.

Krystofer Kolanos was a former first-round pick who never found traction in the NHL and never even played for the Hurricanes, and neither did the second-round pick, Kevin Marshall. Niklas Nordgren did play 42 games for the Hurricanes the year he was traded, tallying four goals and two assists.

Recchi, a 2017-class Hall-of-Famer, joined a legendary championship locker room that included players like Brind’Amour, Williams, Glen Wesley, Doug Weight, Ray Whitney, Cory Stillman, Matt Cullen, Cam Ward and Eric Staal. That year was the extent of his time in Carolina, as he re-signed with the Penguins the following summer.