GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Florida Panthers have traded a player who entered this season widely considered one of the team's key pieces.
Centerman Vincent Trocheck has been dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes for a quartet of players, including NHL regulars Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark.
Also acquired in the deal are prospects Chase Priskie and Eetu Loustarinen.
Trocheck, 26, has two years remaining on a six-year deal he signed in 2016 with an average annual salary of $4.75M.
His breakout season came in 2017-18 when Trocheck put up career highs in goals (31), assists (44) and points (75). Two broken ankles in just over a year put a serious hold on the progress of his career, and while he's shown flashes of his former brilliance in the time since, nothing has been terribly consistent.
"Vincent brings elements of skill and competitiveness that fit the mold of the style we want to play," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. "He's a right-handed center who is excellent in the face-off circle. With two years left on his contract after this one, this fills a need for our roster for this year and moving forward."
Haula, 28, comes to Florida having played in just 41 games this season, but has logged 22 points (12-10-22) and is a solid two-way player with plenty of playoff experience between his time in Minnesota and Vegas.
Knee injury issues have plagued Haula over the past few years, but all reports are that he's back to full strength and hoping to regain the early-season form that saw him score eight goals in Carolina's first 16 games.
The 24-year-old Wallmark is playing in his fourth NHL season, all with Carolina. He picked up a career-highs in points and games played last season (10-18-28 in 81 games) and is pacing to potentially eclipse those numbers this season, already with more goals (11) in just 60 outings.
“Today we acquired players with depth, versatility, and playoff experience,” said Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. “Haula and Wallmark give us more depth in the forward line and more options for our coaches as we continue our quest to make the playoffs this season.”
Deciding to part ways with Trocheck could not have been an easy decision for Tallon, who drafted Vincent and gave him a long-term deal four years ago, but reports out of Florida’s locker room are that head coach Joel Quenneville was not happy with the 2011 third-round pick and was having trouble finding linemates that clicked with him.
Through 55 games this season, Trocheck has just 10 goals and 36 points while playing on countless line combinations and even spending a few games at wing.
His average ice time this season (16:52 per game) is the lowest since his second year in the league, back in 2014-15.
“It’s always a tough decision to part with one of our core young men. Vincent is a quality person and we thank him for his excellent work ethic and play and passion for the game,” Tallon said. “This deal helps us in the present and in the future as we strengthen our depth chart.”
Over the years, Trocheck had become one of the most popular players in the Panthers dressing room and will surely be missed by his former teammates.
As for the prospects coming back to Florida in the trade, defenseman Chase Priskie is a South Florida native from Pembroke Pines playing his first pro season after Washington selected him in the sixth round in 2016.
He was considered one of the top defensemen in NCAA hockey during his time with Quinnipiac, both with his offensive production and defensive ability. The two-year QU captain finished his senior season as a Top 10 finalist for the Hoby Baker Award and graduated with the school record for goals by a defenseman, with 39.
Eetu Luostarinen, a 2017 second round pick from Finland, is playing in his first North American pro season, picking up 25 points (8-17-25) in 44 games with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers. He also played eight games in the NHL with Carolina back in late November, picking up an assist in just under ten minutes of ice time per game.
Luostarinen played three seasons in Liiga, the Finnish elite league, prior to coming across the pond, collecting 63 points (24-39-63) in 141 games while playing with grown men as a (mostly) teenager.
Priskie just turned 23 earlier this month while Luostarinen turned 21 back in September.