Forward traded to Carolina by Vegas likens new team to one that reached Cup Final in 2018
by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
EDINA, Minn. — Erik Haula says he sees similarities between his new team, the Carolina Hurricanes, and his old one, the Vegas Golden Knights.
“I think [Carolina is] a team that is heading in the right direction,” said the forward, who was traded to the Hurricanes by the Golden Knights on June 27 for forward prospect Nicolas Roy and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. “It seems like the city (Raleigh, North Carolina) is excited about hockey again, which is great to see and fun to watch.
“It was a fun story, it kind of reminded me of our squad in Vegas a little bit, so I’m excited to be a part of that.”
The 28-year-old had NHL career highs of 29 goals, 26 assists and 55 points with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18, which ended with a five-game loss to the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final.
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The Hurricanes qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2009 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, where they were swept in four games by the Boston Bruins.
“Initially I was just caught a little bit off guard,” Haula said of the trade Wednesday during Da Beauty League, a set of 3-on-3 games featuring NHL players with ties to Minnesota. “I have a lot of good memories and a lot of good friends, and we’ve enjoyed our time [in Vegas]. But now that I’ve had a lot of time to let it settle in, I’m really excited for a new challenge and a good Carolina team.”
Haula had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 15 games last season. He injured his knee in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 6 and had season-ending surgery.
“It was awful. It was one of the worst things I’ve gone through,” Haula said. “It was very hard and very long, and it has been long time since I’ve played in a game. I’m sure it will take me a bit to get going, get back to contact. I haven’t had any contact yet since, so I’m going to have to take advantage of training camp so I’m good to go at the start of the year.”
Haula played his first four NHL seasons with the Minnesota Wild from 2013-17.
“You’re going to a new group and you try to do your part to fit in as well as you can, and that’s all you can do,” he said. “You want to go in and make some friends and play to the best of your abilities. … It was fun to watch them [last season] and it’s always fun to see where fans rally around the team, and hopefully that continues and we can keep producing this year.”