The Carolina Hurricanes acquired defenseman James Wisniewski from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade for goaltender Anton Khudobin on Saturday.
"I'm speechless," Wisniewski told the Raleigh News & Observer. "I'm so excited. I wish the season was starting next week."
Wisniewski, 31, had eight goals and 29 points in 56 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014-15 before being traded to the Ducks. He had no goals and five points in 13 games for Anaheim, and then did not play during the Ducks' run to the Western Conference Final.
He has two years left on his contract with an average annual value of $5.5 million, according to War-on-ice.com.
"He's a skilled defenseman who can give you offense on the power play. He's got a great shot. I think he's sneaky tough," Carolina general manager Ron Francis told the Hurricanes website. "He's just a competitive, competitive guy. We're trying to get that kind of culture in our organization, and we think he'll fit in nicely in that regard."
Wisniewski has been a positive puck-possession player, relative to his team’s average, in eight of his nine full seasons in the NHL. The Hurricanes were one of the most improved teams in the NHL, particularly in the second half of last season, in puck-possession metrics, and have added Wisniewski and 2015 first-round pick Noah Hanifin to strengthen the defense corps.
"[James] is a guy I’ve known for quite a while," coach Bill Peters said. "He's a guy that can shoot the puck. He's a right-handed shot, and we need that. We need some depth on the back-end, and he gives us that."
The Hurricanes traded for goaltender, Eddie Lack earlier in the day, from the Vancouver Canucks. Lack will cost $1.15 million against the salary cap next season and outperformed Khudobin, spending time as Vancouver's No. 1 goaltender when Ryan Miller was injured.
Khudobin, 29, had a disappointing second season with Carolina after an encouraging first one in 2013-14. He was 8-17-6 with a .900 save percentage in 34 games in 2014-15, after going 19-14-1 with a .926 save percentage in 36 games.
Khudobin has a .919 save percentage in 91 NHL games with the Hurricanes, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild. He has one season left on his contract and will cost $2.25 million against the NHL salary cap for the Ducks in 2015-16.
The Ducks have playoff starter Frederik Andersen, Khudobin and prospect John Gibson on their depth chart. Andersen played well for the Ducks before fading a bit during a seven-game series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final. Gibson struggled at times this season with injuries and inconsistency, but he was NHL.com’s top-rated goaltending prospect before the season began.