Forgotten Carolina Hurricanes: Brian Dumoulin

Most players drafted into the NHL dream of making a career with one team, but for most, that isn’t the case. When fans think of long-time Carolina Hurricanes players, they think of Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Glen Wesley, and Rod Brind’Amour — the latter two had their numbers retired by the franchise — and all of these players had brief stints with other franchises in their careers, even if it was for one season.

These four watched many players come and go over the years. Some stayed for several seasons, while others wore the red sweater for a short time. In this series, we look back at those players whose short stint with the club may have been forgotten.

In the seventh installment of Forgotten Carolina Hurricanes, we’ll look at a man who was drafted by the Hurricanes and signed a contract, but never actually played a game with the team. Instead, he became part of a blockbuster trade that changed the future of the Hurricanes. This player was Brian Dumoulin.

Early Years 

Brian Joseph Dumoulin was born in Biddeford, Maine on September 6, 1991, to Deb and Pete Dumoulin. While his mother was on a trip in California, she discovered rollerblading and decided to teach her sons how to do it when she got back to Maine. They started out on the family driveway but soon took their skills to the ice as it was one of the few organized sports for young kids in the area. A young Dumoulin started off on an Atom team in Maine and was then selected to join a travel team called the Maine Renegades. 

Forgotten Carolina Hurricanes Brian Dumoulin
Brian Dumoulin (The Hockey Writers)

His next step was to join a bantam team in New Hampshire where he played with Garnet Hathaway of the Washington Capitals and his future Pittsburgh Penguins teammate, Casey DeSmith. After bantam, he joined his high school team and helped them win back-to-back state championships. In the two years he played, he racked up 107 points in 48 games. With that success, Dumoulin was able to join a Tier III Junior A team called the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs. That season he had 30 points in 41 games and was named the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Defensive Player of the Year. 

Bright Futures

Even though he hadn’t played in any of the major North American programs like the Canadian Hockey League, United States National Development Program, or United States Hockey League, he still managed to catch the eye of the scouts of the Carolina Hurricanes. In the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he was drafted in the second round (51st overall).

He had already been planning to go to Boston College in the fall. The fact that head coach, Jerry York, has the second-most wins in Division I history, let the Hurricanes know that they would be getting a strong player down the road. Even though he wasn’t yet a Penguin, the wheels were already in motion, setting him on a path towards a future with the team. While in Boston, he played with team prospects and future Penguins teammates, Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson, and Brian Gibbons. Coach York even taught his players how to skate in a similar fashion to what the Penguins’ coaches taught. In his first season, he led the BC Eagles to the Frozen Four where the team won over the Wisconsin Badgers. 

The next season he joined the Eagles once again, but this year, his season was split after he was selected to be part of Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Dumoulin returned to the Eagles with a bronze medal and managed to finish the season with 33 points in 37 games. This strong season had many wondering if he would actually return to Boston in the fall. It also meant that he would be joining the Hurricanes for conditioning camp in the offseason. 

The next year, he went back to Boston, for what turned out to be his final collegiate season. Once again, the Eagles won the Frozen Four against the Ferris State Bulldogs, giving Dumoulin and Boston College a second NCAA title in three years. At the conclusion of the tournament, the Hurricanes signed him to an entry-level contract.

Changing Sides 

A little over two months after signing his entry-level contract, the Hurricanes made a blockbuster trade that left fans with their mouths on the ground. At the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gary Bettman took the stage and announced a trade between the Hurricanes and Penguins. The Penguins traded Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes where he joined his brother, Eric. In exchange, the Penguins received Brandon Sutter, the eighth pick in the draft, and Dumoulin. 

That summer he went to the Penguins’ development camp and earned himself a spot on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) Penguins roster. In his first professional season with the WBS Penguins, he had 24 points in 79 games. He played in his first NHL game on December 14, 2013, against the Detroit Red Wings and recorded his first NHL point two days later against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After six games he was sent back to the WBS Penguins and was with them for their 2014 Calder Cup playoff run. The Penguins made it all the way to the Conference Finals before losing to the St. John’s IceCaps.

For the 2014-15 season, he went back to the WBS Penguins, but the Penguins were plagued with injuries that December, thus causing Dumoulin and Bryan Rust to be recalled. He impressed the Penguins during his call-ups that season and notched his first NHL goal on December 14, 2014, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That summer he signed a two-year one-way contract with the team. 

The Big Leagues 

The next season, Dumoulin cracked his way into a full-time spot on the Penguins roster. He was a consistent defender, getting 16 assists in that first season. He helped the team get to the offseason where he tallied two goals and six assists in 24 games. He was paired with top-defender Kris Letang during the 2016 Stanley Cup run and in his first full NHL season, he and the Penguins lifted the Stanley Cup. With that, he became the first Maine-born NHL player to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Brian Dumoulin Penguins
Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lifting the Cup was a feat the Penguins achieved once again the following season. They became the first team to win it in back-to-back years since the Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. It was the second time the Penguins won the Cup in back-to-back years, the first time coming in during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. During the 2016-17 campaign, Dumoulin had one goal and 14 assists during the regular season and one goal and five assists during the post-season.

Related: Penguins’ 2010s All-Decade Team: Defense

It came as no surprise that the Penguins chose to offer him a new six-year $24.6 million contract on July 24, 2017. He is a strong defender, but his time in the NHL has been plagued with injuries. In 2017-18, he missed two games with a concussion, in 2018-19 he suffered an upper-body injury that left him sidelined and had a concussion in January of that same year, as well as a lower-body injury later in the season. In 2019-20 he had ankle surgery that left him out of the lineup for 33 games. In 2020-21 a lower-body injury plagued him once again, and to start the 2021-22 season, he was placed on the COVID protocol list.

The Bottom Line  

Even though he has seen his fair share of injuries, Dumoulin has continued to impress in the Penguins lineup and is strong in his role as a defender. It does lead to the question of how different his career could have gone had he not been traded to the Penguins. He would more than likely not have won the Stanley Cup, but the Hurricanes were interested in his development, especially after seeing how Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain had progressed in their training.

While we will never know what Dumoulin’s career would have looked like had he never been traded, we do know that he has blossomed in Pittsburgh and it shows with him playing on the top pairing with Kris Letang and being on the first penalty kill unit.

Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It is a trade that will go down in the history of the Penguins and Hurricanes franchises, and one that fans will always remember. For Jordan Staal, it meant joining his brother and ultimately becoming captain of the Hurricanes, leading them out of the rough years the mid-2010s brought. For Dumoulin, it allowed him to get his name on the Stanley Cup twice in his first two years in the NHL as well as being one of the top defensive players for a team as revered as the Penguins. 

It was the shake-up both teams needed as the Penguins were provided with a strong defender and the Hurricanes were able to get a captain who carried on the legacies of Brind’Amour, Staal, and Williams. Dumoulin and Staal are two of the major pillars who have led their teams on the path to the success they have seen in recent years.  


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