One of the league’s worst-kept secrets finally made it out into the open Sunday, as the Hurricanes completed a trade to send veteran defenseman Niclas Wallin to the San Jose Sharks.
In exchange for Wallin and a fifth-round pick, the Canes received Buffalo’s second-round choice that had earlier been acquired by the Sharks (all picks are for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft). The outgoing fifth-rounder was an extra for the Canes, as they still hold Nashville’s choice in that round after 2008’s complicated attempted signing of Darcy Hordichuk.
For Wallin, a 34-year-old in his ninth NHL season, the move was admittedly bittersweet. Although he’s leaving the only organization he’s ever known in Carolina, which drafted him in the fourth round out of Sweden in 2000, he’s going from a team 10 points out of the playoffs to the Western Conference leaders.
“Probably the toughest part of my life was getting off that last airplane,” he said of last night’s arrival in Raleigh from a four-game road trip, knowing that it would be his last time together with his teammates.
Truth be told, most of the last week was difficult for Wallin, who was first pulled from the Hurricanes’ lineup Wednesday night in Calgary, with a deal seeming imminent. However, due to unforeseen complications and the on-again-off-again nature of the trade, he also sat out games in Buffalo and New York before the trade was completed.
“It was definitely tough, but trades are trades,” he said. “I’m glad we got it over with.”
The chance to join one of the league’s top teams motivated Wallin to waive his no-trade clause, which he had not done in two previous opportunities over the last few years.
“I want to win,” he said just prior to boarding a plane en route to Toronto, where he will make his Sharks debut Monday night. “I want to win championships and this is one of the best teams in the league. I’m excited to be a piece of the puzzle.
“It’s like winning the lottery,” he added. “This is a team that obviously has a chance to go all the way.”
Wallin did not comment on reports that the trade was delayed by sluggish negotiations with San Jose for a contract extension.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I opened my contract to come here, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”