The Carolina Hurricanes are in a good place. Despite having a handful of regulars out of the lineup and a COVID protocol pause, Carolina carries a 5-1 record into tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. They have a strong mix of youth and veteran leadership and, while the injury to Petr Mrazek could cause issues, they should challenge for the Central Division title.
The Hurricanes boast a mix of homegrown talent and players pulled in from trades, including a pair who were added last season. Today, we’re going to look back at 4 trades from the 2019-20 season and see how the players who changed teams are doing this year.
Trade 1: Julien Gauthier to the Rangers
This wasn’t a huge trade by any means but Gauthier was once thought of as a future piece of the Carolina Hurricanes roster. Drafted 21st overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Gauthier was a power forward prospect with a ton of upside.
Making his professional debut with the Charlotte Checkers in the 2017-18 season, Gauthier posted 16 goals and 25 points in 65 games. The 6′ 4″ winger followed that up with a 27 goal, 41 point effort with the Checkers the following season. Gauthier finally got a taste of NHL action with the Hurricanes during the 2019-20 season, appearing in 5 games. Despite only registering 1 assist, he didn’t look out of place but also didn’t lock down a regular spot with the Hurricanes.
Gauthier continued to progress in Charlotte, upping his output to 26 goals and 37 points in just 44 games before being shipped off to the New York Rangers on February 18, 2020.
Gauthier appeared in 12 games with the Rangers following the trade, picking up 2 assists. He also dressed in all 3 games against the Hurricanes in the 2020 play-in round, recording no points while averaging 7:19 of ice time. So far in 2021, Gauthier has played in 4 games for the Rangers and is yet to pick up a point.
Keane, a 3rd round pick from 2018, has yet to appear in the NHL. In 9 games with the Checkers last season, he picked up 1 goal and 7 points, showing his offensive potential. Keane is currently assigned to the Chicago Wolves—the Hurricanes’ new AHL affiliate—for the 2021 season which is set to begin on February 5th.
Trade 2: Adding Blueline Depth
There’s no doubt that the Carolina Hurricanes have one of—if not the—best collection of defensemen in the NHL. They suffered a setback when Dougie Hamilton, in the midst of a Norris-caliber season, suffered a broken leg on January 16, 2020. With the Hurricanes set to make a push for the playoffs, GM Don Waddell went looking for help.
Just over a month later, Waddell pulled the trigger on a trade intended to add some offense to the blueline in Hamilton’s absence:
|To Carolina:||To New Jersey:|
|D Sami Vatanen||D Fredrik Claesson|
|F Janne Kuokkanen|
|2020 4th round pick (conditional)|
Vatanen was injured at the time of the trade and, with the league going into a COVID-induced hibernation 2 weeks later, the Finnish defender wouldn’t make his Hurricanes debut until the playoffs. He appeared in 7 postseason games with Carolina, notching 3 assists before the Hurricanes were eliminated by the Boston Bruins. Vatanen became an unrestricted free agent and returned to New Jersey.
Claesson, who had signed with the Hurricanes prior to the 2019-20 season, never suited up for Carolina. He did appear in 5 games for the Devils after the trade and put up 1 goal and 1 assist. On January 10, 2021, he signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks.
Kuokkanen, a 2nd round pick from 2016, had gone without a point in 11 games with the Hurricanes between 2017-2019. He appeared in 1 game with the Devils in 2019-20, failing to record a point. So far in 2021, he’s played in 9 games with New Jersey, picking up 1 goal and 2 assists.
The 4th round pick, the conditions of which changed due to the league pause, became a 3rd rounder. The Devils used it to select goaltender Nico Daws who is currently playing with ERC Ingolstadt in the DEL.