It would appear that the situation with the Hurricanes and Patrick O’Sullivan has ended in the best possible way for both sides.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Wild used a waiver claim on the 25-year-old, who had seen his playing opportunities in Carolina limited by the team’s good health and the performance of other players on the left side of the lineup.
With the move, O’Sullivan, who had 1 goal for the Canes, should get a chance to show what he can do in a more suitable scoring role on a team that ranks 27th in goals scored and has been hit by recent injuries to its forward ranks.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” said O’Sullivan. “Just speaking to (Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher) now, they know the type of player I am and the situations they want me to play there. It’s going to be a good chance, and hopefully I can take advantage of it.”
Both O’Sullivan and Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford said that multiple teams had placed a waiver claim on the player, but Minnesota got him by having the highest priority due to their record.
As much as O’Sullivan, who spent the first years of his life in Winston-Salem, returned to his roots by signing with Carolina, he’s doing something similar with Minnesota. The Wild selected him with their second-round pick, 56th overall, in 2003.
“You always have a special place for the team that drafts you originally,” he said. “My first pro season was with the organization, and it’s funny how things turn and change.”
From the Hurricanes’ perspective, they solve a nightly lineup headache and save money on a contract while further clearing the way for young players in Charlotte of the American Hockey League. Even if Carolina’s good luck with injuries were to change, having Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk or Zac Dalpe make the short drive east would suit the club just fine.
“If we run into injuries now, that will open the door for some of these guys,” said Hurricanes’ GM Jim Rutherford.
Rutherford, who signed O’Sullivan as a free agent on the day of training camp physicals, added that he was not the least bit surprised that another team took a shot on the player, who was placed on waivers Monday. That’s why he never put serious thought into subsequent choices that he would have needed to made if he had cleared, such as assigning him to Charlotte or pursuing a trade.
“I had talked to some teams about him,” said Rutherford. “Teams had asked me how he’d been playing and how he was around the team and this and that.”
The Hurricanes may not have had a clear answer to that first question, as O’Sullivan played just 10 of a possible 20 games, sitting out the others as a healthy scratch. When he did play, it was typically on the fourth line where it was difficult for him to make an impact as an offensive player.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself, and like everyone knows, I haven’t really had a chance here,” said O’Sullivan. “I haven’t got a lot of game opportunities, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the rhythm of hopefully playing more minutes and playing in situations I’m going to have a chance to succeed at.”
“It’s good for him,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice of O’Sullivan joining the Wild. “He really didn’t get a chance here, and the biggest reason was that we’ve been healthy, fortunately. He’s a good player, he worked hard, was no problem and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of success there.”