In the middle of January 2019, the Carolina Hurricanes had suffered through an awful season to that point. They were about 10 points out of the playoff places, and it looked like the streak was going to reach 10 years. Carolina was on a little bit of a hot streak dating back to New Year’s Day, but it was nothing that was being perceived as ending the drought that the team had endured for so long.
On January 17th, 2019, the Hurricanes traded center Victor Rask to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Nino Niederreiter. Even at the time, this trade looked like the Hurricanes had robbed the Minnesota Wild blind, but then we saw the birth of the legend of El Nino. From there, Caniacs from around the world got to see the Swiss Missle land in Raleigh and catapult the franchise into relevancy again.
In his year in Raleigh, Nino had 30 points in 36 games and he looked like everything the Hurricanes had needed. It proved that he couldn’t maintain that pace over his time in North Carolina, but he was always a big part of the lineup. Rarely missing from the lineup, Niederreiter became the living embodiment of what it meant to be a Hurricane. A little skill, strong defensive play and determination, and a certain ignorance of knowing when he is beaten.
Today, Niederreiter signed a 2-year deal in the Music City that will see him carry a $4 million cap hit. With that one of the best trades in Carolina Hurricanes’ history has finally stopped carrying fruit. Nino was the player that scored the goal that clinched the win over New Jersey when the drought ended. He is a great player, and it hurts to lose him, but hockey is a business and the money just didn’t work out.
To Nino Niederreiter, thank you. During your time in Raleigh, you always acted as a professional on the ice, and a truly amazing human being off of it. Almost single-handedly, you brought the spark back to PNC Arena and helped the best fan base in the sport get back to its former glory. For the entire fan base, thank you for everything, and we wish you the best of luck in Nashville… except for when you play against the Canes of course!