The Carolina Hurricanes made a trade Tuesday, but not one that created a lot of ripples throughout the NHL.
The Canes sent forward Viktor Stalberg to the Ottawa Senators for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, dealing away another pending unrestricted free agent.
Stalberg, 31, signed a one-year, $1.5 million free-agent contract with the Hurricanes in July and has played 57 games this season. Mostly used as a fourth-line forward, he was one of the Canes’ best penalty killers, scoring two shorthanded goals and creating other shorthanded chances with his speed and aggressiveness.
Stalberg has nine goals this season, scoring Friday against the Senators in the Canes’ 3-0 victory at PNC Arena. He had three hits and played a physical game, perhaps further impressing the Senators’ coaches and management.
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Stalberg was at the Canes’ morning skate before Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., taking the ice at BB&T Center about two hours before the trade was announced. He later left for Ottawa.
Canes forward Jeff Skinner returned to Raleigh on Tuesday to be evaluated for an upper-body injury, general manager Ron Francis said. Skinner will not play in Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay.
The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m., and Canes coach Bill Peters was asked after the skate how much the uncertainty about potential trades was weighing on the players.
“We addressed it well in advance of the deadline (and) everyone knows what’s going on,” Peters said. “It’s a tough time of the year for everybody. There’s guys getting moved all over the league and it impacts people’s lives in a big way.
“It’s an important couple of days here coming down the stretch. I know it will be in the back of guys’ minds but the guys that are real good pros will be able to park it at game time.”
The Canes were able to do that Friday against the Senators, a day after Francis dealt defenseman Ron Hainsey to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They weren’t as sharp or focused Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames that ended a 1-3-1 homestand.
The Canes have other pending UFAs that might draw some interest before the deadline as teams look to add role players — forwards Jay McClement and Derek Ryan.
A year ago, the Canes dealt former captain Eric Staal a few hours before facing the St. Louis Blues at PNC Arena, resulting in an awkward departure for a star player who helped Carolina win the 2006 Stanley Cup for Carolina. Francis later dealt forward Kris Versteeg and defenseman John-Michael Liles, two other UFAs last year.
The Canes continue to stockpile draft picks this year — 11 in all — after picking up a second-rounder from the Pens and the third from Ottawa. The Canes now have seven in the first three rounds of the 2017 NHL Draft: one in the first round, and three in each of the second and third rounds.
But the anxiety for the players will continue until Wednesday at 3 p.m
“It’s an unfortunate time right now,” Canes center Jordan Staal said after the Hainsey trade. “Obviously we weren’t sure if we were going to be a seller and what-not. Obviously when the first one happens you know that other things can happen, so you think about it.
“We’re all human and it’s not fun watching friends go, but it is part of it. You see it everywhere.”