Penguins notebook: Odd homecoming for ex-Hurricanes pick Dumoulin
RALEIGH, N.C. — When the Penguins sent Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 22, 2012, the return they received, in the parlance of NHL trades, was a player, a pick and a prospect.
The player was Brandon Sutter, who has since been moved to Vancouver. The pick, eighth overall in the first round that day, became defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who remains in Wilkes-Barre.
The prospect was Brian Dumoulin, and these days, he's the most important part of the return for the Penguins, developing into a top-four defenseman at age 24.
“You don't know what to expect, this being my first year, but it's good playing against top guys, especially early on in my career,” Dumoulin said. “It shows that I can play against those guys, and it'll only make me a better player in the long run.”
Tuesday night's game was a weird homecoming of sorts for Dumoulin. It was his first game at PNC Arena, the home of the team that picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft, but his ties to the Hurricanes have faded dramatically.
He said he visited Raleigh just once while he was a Hurricanes prospect for a development camp. He got to know defenseman Justin Falk, and they remain friendly, but he's the only member of his six-man draft class to play more than six NHL games.
“It's a new younger group here,” Dumoulin said. “It's not much of a connection.”
Dumoulin was in the lineup Tuesday night even though he took a puck off the hand late in Saturday night's game in Montreal.
“It was bad,” Dumoulin said. “It's like getting hit in the hand with a hammer. You know, like when you're nailing a nail and you miss and bang your finger. I just wanted to keep moving to keep my mind off of it. It hurts a lot, but it's calmed down a little bit.”
Ups and downs
Staal has had his ups and downs since joining the Hurricanes. Lately, he has been on an upswing, posting a goal and an assist in each of his last three games heading into Tuesday's matchup with the Penguins.
He has also had pointless stretches of nine and seven games this season, though, so he knows success can be fleeting.
And therefore, he knows what former teammate Sidney Crosby has been going through the season.
“It touches everyone,” Staal said. “It's a tough game and it seems to be getting tighter and tighter every season. It's hard to get points. Obviously, he's bounced back like everyone thought he would.”
Fond memories for Cullen
By playing for eight NHL teams, center Matt Cullen has made himself at home in a wide variety of towns all over North America. He is met by a familiar face or two in nearly every city the Penguins visit.
Raleigh is a particularly special stop. He played four seasons with the Hurricanes from 2005-10 and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2006.
“You look back and you realize how lucky you are to have this,” Cullen said. “This is a great place. A great place to live, a great place to play, great people. It's a fun place to come back to.”