RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The Carolina Hurricanes acquired center Matt Cullen - a key piece in their 2006 Stanley Cup title run - from the New York Rangers on Tuesday for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, a prospect and a draft pick.
Cullen tallied career highs with 25 goals and 49 points as the Hurricanes' third-line center during the 2005-06 season, including four goals and 14 assists in the playoffs. Then Cullen signed a four-year deal, $11.2 million with the Rangers as a free agent last summer, finishing with 16 goals and 25 assists with New York.
The Hurricanes struggled to fill Cullen's spot and failed to make the playoffs. To get him back, Carolina also sent forward Joe Barnes and a third-round pick in the 2008 draft to the Rangers.
Cullen's future with New York grew unclear when the Rangers signed centers Chris Drury from Buffalo and Scott Gomez from New Jersey earlier this month. This deal gives New York $2.4 million of much-needed, salary-cap space.
Hutchinson will earn $500,000 for the 2007-08 season and can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He had three goals and 11 assists for Carolina.
Barnes, a third-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2005, had two goals and an assist in 15 games with Albany of the AHL last year.