In Thursday’s game in Dallas, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour shortened his bench at the start of the third period in a tie game, leaving rookie center Morgan Geekie to watch as Carolina scored the go-ahead goal and limited the Stars en route to a 4-3 win.
“We had some tough matchups, and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught on one,” Brind’Amour said.
Given that Geekie has just 11 games of NHL experience and the Stars are loaded with veteran talent, it wasn’t a surprise that Brind’Amour decided to rely on his more experienced top three centers in a tight game.
Going forward, he shouldn’t have to worry much about inexperience on the fourth line.
Carolina acquired centers Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk from Ottawa on Saturday in exchange for winger Ryan Dzingel, adding a Stanley Cup-winning fourth-line center while saving money against the cap.
All three players in the deal are in the final year of their contracts and eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season.
Dzingel, 28, is in the second year of a two-year contract he signed with Carolina in 2019 that costs $3.375 million against the salary cap. He earns $3.5 million this season.
Paquette and Galchenyuk, both 27, carry a combined $2.7 million cap hit. Paquette’s salary and cap hit are $1.65 million, while Galchenyuk is on a one-year deal worth $1.05 million. The trade saves Carolina $675,000 against the cap.
While Galchenyuk is the former third overall pick (Montreal, 2012), Paquette is the player Carolina coveted in the deal. The Gaspe, Quebec, native was a key role player on the Lightning last season, helping Tampa Bay to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. He played all 25 playoff games with the Lightning and had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 61 regular season games last year.
Tampa Bay’s cap crunch led the Lightning to trade Paquette — a 2012 fourth-round pick by the team — along with Braydon Coburn and a draft pick to Ottawa in December. He had one goal in nine games with the Senators.
Saturday’s trade brings Paquette back to a Cup contender and into the same division with his former team. Carolina is 8-3-0 heading into Saturday’s game at Dallas, while the Lightning are 9-2-1. The Senators, playing in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon just after news of the trade broke, are a league-worst 2-12-1.
The addition of Paquette not only gives Carolina more experience down the middle, but he brings needed grit to a lineup that has lacked it.
“He can play against other teams’ good lines,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Paquette early last season when the center was injured. “We trust him throwing him over the boards on D-zone faceoffs. … You take him off and you don’t realize how much you miss him until he’s gone.”
Paquette has 48 goals and 86 points in 386 career regular season games, and added five goals and 12 points in 91 career playoff games. He never cracked 20 points in six full NHL seasons, but he did have a career-high 13 goals in 2018-19. He led the Lightning in hits each of the last two seasons and was a frequent penalty killer throughout his career in Tampa Bay. He has seven career shorthanded goals, one of which came in the postseason.
“Cedric is a strong, physical forward who won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay last season,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a press release. “We’re excited to add both of these players to our forward group.”
The Hurricane also added Galchenyuk, a one-time 30-goal scorer who is now with his fourth team since the start of last season. Galchenyuk was selected third overall by Montreal in 2012 and jumped right to the NHL. He had at least 44 points in four of his six seasons with the Canadiens, including a career-high 56 in 2015-16 when he scored 30 goals, but was traded to Arizona for Max Domi before the 2018-19 season.
He spent just one year with the Coyotes, scoring 19 goals with 41 points, before being traded again — this time to Pittsburgh as part of the deal that sent Phil Kessel to Arizona. Just over seven months later he was on the move yet again, this time to Minnesota as part of the package that went to the Wild for Jason Zucker. He signed as a free agent with Ottawa in the offseason but had just one goal in eight games.
Galchenyuk likely has an uphill climb to find his way into Carolina’s lineup and was likely included to balance out the salaries exchanged. Given that both players are coming from Canada, the Hurricanes will likely have a short wait for their new players to join the team.
As for Dzingel, he never found the scoring success he had in Ottawa where he was a seventh-round pick in 2011. Dzingel turned down a five-year, $25 million contract extension to stay in Ottawa in 2019, leading to him being traded to Columbus at the trade deadline.
One source said Dzingel was unhappy in Ottawa despite his success there on the ice, which is why he turned down the deal. He had eight goals and 21 assists in 64 games for Carolina last year but had mostly been in a fourth-line role this season. He had two goals and two assists in 11 games.
The Hurricanes made a second, albeit smaller, trade Saturday, sending longtime prospect Gregory Hofmann to Columbus in exchange for the Blue Jackets’ seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft. The 28-year-old speedy Swiss forward never signed a contract with Carolina but his rights remained with the team because of a lack of transfer agreement between the NHL and Switzerland.