Remembering The Biggest Trade Deadlines in Hurricanes History: Starting From Scratch

The "Dark Days" continued for the organization, signaling one of the most remarkable shifts in franchise history with several star players being moved.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers / Al Bello/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Four
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Four / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

If you've been around this team for a long time, you remember where you were when one of the biggest deals in franchise history went down. This deadline, in general, was two days of non-stop action. February 28 and 29 would mark the end of an era for Hurricanes hockey.

After making the big trade, which I'm saving for last, earlier in the day, the other big deal they made on the day before the deadline involved Kris Versteeg being sent to the Kings for Valentin Zykov and a conditional 5th in 2016. Versteeg scored five points in 14 games for the Kings before adding two more in a five-game loss to the Sharks. Zykov never got the chance to showcase his offensive upside, scoring 11 points in 24 games across three seasons before being placed on waivers in 2018. The condition placed on the pick were never met.

On deadline day, the Canes made two more trades. First, they trade John-Michael Liles to Boston for Anthony Camara and two picks. Liles scored six points in 17 games to finish the season and then stuck around for one more year before retiring after the 2016-17 season. Camara has yet to make it to the NHL. With one of the picks, the Canes selected goalie Jack LaFontaine 75th overall in 2016. There was a lot of hype surrounding him coming out of Minnesota.

Being billed as the goalie of the future, he signed his entry-level contract in the middle of the college season in 2022 as injuries ravaged the team in the net. He made his debut in relief, allowing two goals on three shots. In his first start nine days later, he allowed seven goals on 38 shots. He hasn't played in the NHL since then. The other pick the Canes received, a 5th Round pick in 2017, was used to push Vegas to select Connor Brickley during their Expansion Draft. Their other trade that day was a minor swap, sending Drew MacIntyre to Chicago for Dennis Robertson. Neither has played in the league to this point.

The big trade that everyone remembers was the Eric Staal deal. Owning almost every offensive record for the team during their time in Raleigh, the Canes traded their captain to the New York Rangers for Aleksi Saarela and two 2nd Round picks. His days with the Rangers yielded little as Staal scored just six points in 20 games and was held scoreless as New York was eliminated in five games. He'd sign with Minnesota in the offseason, where he'd undergo a career resurgence with the Wild.

As for the Canes' return in that deal, Saarela played one postseason game in 2019, but never suited up for the team in the regular season. The two picks they received were in 2016 and 2017. The 2017 pick was used on Luke Martin, who never played for the Canes. The pick the year prior was traded to Chicago with a pick in 2017 for Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell, who'd just won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015. Bickell's harrowing story is well-documented. He was forced to retire from hockey in 2017 after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but not before providing a lasting memory in his final game. The most impactful part of this entire trade continues to be Teravainen. He's in his eighth season with the team and is the one reason why I don't think this trade was a complete bust for the organization.