Helping the enemy? Florida trades Cory Stillman to Carolina for Ryan Carter and 5th round pick

The NHL trade deadline helps create some strange partnerships in deals. Today Southeast Division rivals Florida and Carolina came together on a deal that sends Cory Stillman from the Panthers back to the Hurricanes in exchange for Ryan Carter and a fifth round pick in 2011.

Stillman is a power forward that used to play for the Hurricanes, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2006. Through his career he was a steady 20-goal, 50-point per season player. Lately, his health has gotten the better of him reducing the number of games he’s gotten to play. He hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since 2007-2008 when he split time with Carolina and Ottawa. This season, he’s played 44 games and has seven goals and 16 assists.

It’s also not the first time that GM Jim Rutherford dipped into the Hurricanes past to bring back a guy that’s helped them out in the past. Joni Pitkanen, Erik Cole, and Anton Babchuk were all reclamation acquisitions for Carolina in their recent history. It’s just all proof that once you’ve been in Carolina, you can always go home again. I guess you can always go home again.

What he’ll provide the Hurricanes with is a veteran presence familiar with how things are done in Raleigh. With the lack of wing depth they’ve got in Carolina, he’ll help them out. He’ll also give them a veteran leader should the Hurricanes make the playoffs. Stillman won Stanley Cups in consecutive seasons with Tampa Bay in 2004 and Carolina in 2006.

For Florida, GM Dale Tallon clears out a veteran forward in order to give more of the Panthers young guys ice time and brings in a checking forward in Ryan Carter who now joins his third team this season. He started the season in Anaheim and was then moved to Carolina in exchange for two minor league players. Now he heads to Florida where he’ll figure to get a better shot at ice time there.

While rumors swirl in Sunrise, Florida about what may or may not happen with the likes of Stephen Weiss, David Booth, and Tomas Vokoun, it’s Stillman who is the next to go. Florida recently dealt Michal Frolik to Chicago for Jack Skille and as the Panthers fall back further in the Eastern Conference playoff race, teams are circling hoping to pick off useful players for their own playoff pushes. Dale Tallon is a guy with a plan, but for now things appear to be down in the dumps for Panthers players and fans as the deadline approaches.

The next few days might be trying ones for fans in South Florida, they’ll just have to hope that Tallon’s plan pays off the same way his plan in Chicago paid off for the Blackhawks last season. The fifth round pick acquired gives the Panthers nine choices in the 2011 draft. With other players still potentially set to be traded, that number figures to go up before the end of business on Monday.

Stars give Lindell two-year extension

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More news out of Dallas, where the Stars have signed defenseman Esa Lindell to a two-year, $4.4-million contract extension.

From the release:

Lindell, 23, posted 18 points (6-12=18) in 73 games played for Dallas during the 2016-17 regular season, his first full season in the NHL. He finished second on the team by averaging 21:52 of time on ice per game and his +8 plus/minus rating finished third. Additionally, he finished second on the team with 119 blocked shots and tied for fifth with 93 hits.

The Stars still have a couple of restricted free agents on the back end. Both Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are arbitration-eligible. Lindell was not.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Stars were buying out goalie Antti Niemi.

Dallas also signed forward Mark McNeill to a one-year, two-way contract extension. The 24-year-old was acquired from Chicago in the Johnny Oduya trade on Feb. 28.

Lightning extend Gourde — two years, $2 million

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Yanni Gourde has cashed in on an impressive 20-game cameo with Tampa Bay this season.

Gourde signed a two-year, $2 million extension on Monday, the Bolts announced. The deal came after the 25-year-old scored six goals and eight points in 20 games, while averaging 15:22 TOI per night.

Undrafted out of the Quebec League, Gourde has been a terrific AHL player since catching on with the Tampa Bay organization a few years ago.

He was instrumental in Syracuse’s run to the Calder Cup final this year — scoring 27 points in 22 games — and, given his new deal is of the one-way variety, seems primed to spend next year with the Lightning.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to sign that kind of a deal knowing where I’ve come from,” Gourde said, per NHL.com. “It’s the organization that trusted me very early in my career, and I thank them for that.”

Carolina’s strategy of flipping picks for players ‘just didn’t pan out’

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In late May, the ‘Canes looked like a team primed to trade some draft picks.

GM Ron Francis kicked off proceedings by sending one of his 11 picks — a third-rounder — to Chicago for goalie Scott Darling. Shortly thereafter, Francis said his club had “the open for business sign out there,”suggesting he was ready to wheel and deal.

But said wheeling and dealing never occurred.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to take a few less picks,” Francis said after he selected nine players at the draft, per ‘Canes Country. “We’d had a lot of discussions about trying to move picks for players, but it just didn’t pan out the way we had hoped.”

Prior to landing in Chicago, it was obvious the goal for Francis and head coach Bill Peters was to add pieces that’d help get the ‘Canes back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The team has shown steady improvement over the last three years — going from 30 to 35 to 36 wins — and had a nice late push before ultimately falling short this season.

“I think we have specific needs, very specific needs,” Peters said at Carolina’s end-of-year media availability. “So as a coach I’m going to give very specific names.”

As many clubs experienced at the draft, trades weren’t easy to orchestrate. It was a stark contrast to the flurry of action that proceeded the event — Jonathan Drouin to Montreal, Jordan Eberle to the Islanders, huge shakeups in both Arizona and Chicago.

The perceived weakness of said draft could’ve played a role in the lack of movement. It’s also worth noting that Francis did use one of his picks, a fifth-rounder, for Vegas to select Connor Brickley at the expansion draft.

And, to be clear, this doesn’t mean Carolina still can’t add players. Free agency opens on Saturday. But draft weekend certainly feels like an opportunity missed, given this year’s UFA market doesn’t project to be very strong.

Report: Stars to buy out Antti Niemi

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The Antti Niemi era in Dallas is mercifully over.

Per Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, the Stars will place Niemi on waivers for the purposes of buying out the final year of his contract. The buyout will result in a $1.5 million cap hit in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Niemi, 33, joined the Stars in 2015 with the hope he’d form an effective tandem with Kari Lehtonen.

But the experiment was a dismal failure. In 85 games over two seasons, Niemi registered a .900 save percentage, and the Stars responded last month by signing Ben Bishop to a six-year contract worth almost $30 million.

GM Jim Nill had hoped that one of Niemi or Lehtonen could be traded in the wake of the Bishop signing.

Lehtonen, 33, is still under contract for another year at a cap hit of $5.9 million. He had a .902 save percentage last season, higher than Niemi’s .892.