The Carolina Hurricanes are less than two years removed from winning the Stanley Cup and only a point out of first place in the Southeast Division, but they've admitted they're not going anywhere this season.
Not officially of course - - you can't do that with two months left in the season and still hope to sell tickets -- though Carolina said as much today by trading away one of its top scorers and a physical defenseman in the most notable deal of the season so far. The Hurricanes sent left wing Cory Stillman and defenseman Mike Commodore to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves, a deal that for Carolina was more about money than upgrading the team for a playoff run.
Both Stillman and Commodore and unrestricted free agents this summer and would have been outside the Hurricanes budget parameters, so getting something for them now made sense for GM Jim Rutherford. Especially since the Hurricanes as currently constructed do not look like a team with a long playoff run in it, if Carolina gets there at all. Corvo at least is a puck-moving defenseman who is signed for two more years, and he gives the Hurricanes something they're missing on the back end, while and Eaves can skate and makes less than a million dollars. But neither makes the a Carolina team in a death struggle for a playoff spot better than it was before.
You can't say that about the guys going the other way. Stillman, who missed much of last season after shoulder surgery, has 21 goals so far and he's the kind of player who steps it up in the playoffs. He played a key role for Tamp Bay when the Lightning won the 2004 Stanley and for the Hurricanes during their 2006 title march, and he's the top six forward the Senators have been looking for the help take the pressure off the top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. Commodore meanwhile, is a physical presence, which never hurts to have in the playoffs.
Both Stillman and Commodore could be gone after the season, but right now they look like pretty good additions to a team that believes it can win it all.