RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes are betting that trading for veteran defenseman Brent Burns will help a regular playoff team make an even deeper postseason push.
Getting another scoring option in winger Max Pacioretty essentially for free won’t hurt, either.
The Hurricanes acquired the 2017 Norris Trophy winner in Burns from San Jose on Wednesday as the NHL opened its free-agency period. Later in the day, Carolina acquired Pacioretty from Vegas for future considerations as the Knights deal with a salary-cap crunch.
In the Burns deal, Carolina also got forward Lane Pederson from the Sharks in exchange for forward Steven Lorentz, goaltender prospect Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional third-round pick next year. The Pacioretty deal also included the arrival of defenseman Dylan Coghlan.
The biggest addition was the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Burns, who was still among the league leaders in ice time last season — five years since being named the league’s top defenseman.
“Since it’s been announced, eight or nine of our current players have already texted me saying, wow, they can’t believe we got this guy,” Carolina president and general manager Don Waddell said. “That’s always a positive sign.”
The Sharks will retain 34% of the remaining salary and cap hit for the 37-year-old Burns, reducing his cap hit in Carolina to around $5.3 million for each of the three remaining on his contract.
Burns, who waived his no-trade clause for the deal, bolsters Carolina’s blue line after the Hurricanes sent Tony DeAngelo to Philadelphia for three draft picks last week following his one-year stay with the team.
Burns is set to join veterans Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei in the Hurricanes’ top defensive pairings while also providing help on the power play, an area where DeAngelo thrived last season.
“I’m coming to a time where winning and having a chance to win it all is really all that matters right now,” Burns said. “I’ve chased the boys in red and black around the ice there for a while. … It’s a great, great team that is competing for a championship every year.”
Burns is an 18-year NHL veteran, spending his first seven seasons in Minnesota and the past 11 with the Sharks. He has appeared in 679 straight games dating to the 2013-14 season, while his 15 career overtime goals are the most by a defenseman in league history.
“You always look (at) age, but everybody ages differently,” Waddell said. “And this is a big man that has played a lot of minutes and been very durable through his career. So we think he’s got at least three more real good years in him as he reaches the age of 40.”
The Vegas trade added the 33-year-old Pacioretty and 24-year-old Coghlan, with Pacioretty’s arrival addressing an area of need: a wing scorer to add to a forward group led by young talents like Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen.
“Adding offensive firepower and improving our power play were priorities this offseason, and Max certainly checks those boxes,” Waddell said in a statement Wednesday night.
Pacioretty is a six-time 30-goal scorer, most recently when he had 32 goals in the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. He had 19 goals and 18 assists despite playing just 39 games due to injury last year.
The Hurricanes have made the playoffs for four consecutive seasons after a nine-year drought. They have won division titles in each of the past two years, yet haven’t won more than one series since an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2019.
The New York Rangers ousted the Hurricanes in late May, ending a postseason that saw Carolina fail to win a road game in two seven-game series despite posting the NHL’s third-best regular-season record.
They lost second-line center Vincent Trocheck in free agency Wednesday to the New York Rangers while sending the 26-year-old Lorentz, who spent the playoffs as a fourth-liner or healthy scratch, to the Sharks in the Burns deal.
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