The Carolina Hurricanes have traded away one team favorite to bring back another in a three-way deadline deal announced today.
Forward Justin Williams has been traded to the Los Angeles Kings, setting up the return of forward Erik Cole from the Edmonton Oilers.
The Hurricanes received forward Patrick O'Sullivan from the Kings in exchange for the injured Williams. Carolina then traded O'Sullivan to the Oilers for Cole, who was dealt to the Oilers after last season for defenseman Joni Pitkanen.
"Another tough trade to make, in the fact that Justin Williams was a big part of our team — just as tough ... to make as when we traded Erik Cole," Canes president and general manager Jim Rutherford said at a news conference at the RBC Center.
Cole is scheduled to arrive in Raleigh tonight and will practice with the Canes tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the RBC Center, Rutherford said.
"I just talked to Erik and he's really excited about coming back," he said. "I don't think he was as comfortable in Edmonton. He was used to being here. He views this as his home.
"He has very good chemistry playing with Eric Staal. I don't think he found that chemistry playing with anybody else in Edmonton. He's looking forward to coming back."
Williams' empty-net goal sealed the Game 7 victory for the Canes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final. More recently, injuries have sidelined Williams. He was limited to 37 games (nine goals, 21 assists) last season by a knee injury that required major reconstructive surgery.
Then in September, Williams tore an achilles tendon days before the start of training camp. That injury cost him the first 25 games of the season. More recently, Williams has been sidelined after a shot by teammate Anton Babchuk last month fractured a bone in his hand.
"It's been tough with his injuries," Rutherford said. "It seems to be an uphill batlle and he's still three or four weeks away from coming back, and we're in the most crucial time of our season."
Cole suffered a broken neck during the 2005-06 season but returned to play in the last two games of the Finals.
In 63 games this season, Cole has 16 goals and 11 assists for the Oilers. He leads Edmonton's skaters with 134 hits while averaging 17:04 ice time per game.
There were sizable financial considerations, as well, in the deal. Cole will become an unresricted free agent at the end of the season while Williams' contract, Rutherford said, will pay him $3.5 million each of the next two seasons.
Rutherford said the Canes would pick up a pro-rated portion of Cole's $4 million salary of $500,000.
"From a contract point of view this works out better for us,"