As is often the case, the best place to start is the very beginning. Two months before the 1998 deadline, the Hurricanes made a big deal with the Vancouver Canucks, acquiring Martin Gelinas and Kirk McLean for a package that included young 40-goal scorer Geoff Sanderson and goalie Sean Burke. Gelinas' contributions to the organization over the next several seasons are well-documented in the team's history books, including the series-clinching goal in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals to send the team to their first Stanley Cup Final. McLean's tenure with the team wouldn't be as glamorous.
After eight appearances, Kirk McLean was sent to the Florida Panthers at the deadline for forward Ray Sheppard. While the Hurricanes failed to secure a playoff spot in their inaugural season, Sheppard's impact would be greatly felt the following season. En route to a division crown, Sheppard finished second on the team in goals (25) and third in points (58) as the Canes qualified for their first postseason.
In their series with Boston, Sheppard scored five goals in six goals, including the overtime winner in Game 2 to secure the team's first playoff win. He would depart that offseason, returning to the Panthers as a free agent. McLean made 37 appearances over the next two seasons for the Panthers, going 13-12-5 with a 2.85 GAA. The Canes aced their first deadline, making an impactful move to help push the team in the right direction.