RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The Carolina Hurricanes have traded forward Erik Cole to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Joni Pitkanen.
Tuesday's deal gives the Hurricanes the young, offensive-minded defenseman they've long coveted but cost them their top-line right wing, the third-leading goal-scorer in franchise history.
The 29-year-old Cole had 22 goals and 29 assists in his seventh season with the Hurricanes and helped lead them to the Stanley Cup two years ago. He is entering the final year of a contract that pays him $4 million per season.
The 24-year-old Pitkanen had eight goals and 18 assists in his only season with Edmonton, ranking second among the team's defensemen in scoring after he was picked up in a trade last summer with Philadelphia. He is a restricted free agent who made $2.4 million in 2007-08.
The Hurricanes made upgrading their defense a priority this offseason after they learned two veterans would not return. Glen Wesley retired after 20 NHL seasons and Bret Hedican told the team he would not be back for a seventh season.
Also on Tuesday, the Oilers also acquired center Gilbert Brule from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Raffi Torres, and the Hurricanes agreed to a deal that will bring back defenseman Anton Babchuk for one year at $1 million.
Carolina had acquired Babchuk during the 2005-06 season and he split time the following year with the Hurricanes and Albany, the club's American Hockey League affiliate. Last season, the 24-year-old had nine goals and 17 assists in 57 games with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superliga.