Carolina trades Eric Belanger to Nashville in exchange for Josef Vasicek

Both players are earning US$1.3 million this season. “We’re familiar with Vasicek,” Canes GM Jim Rutherford told The Canadian Press. “We’re going to move him back to his natural centre position. When he left here he had played left wing for quite a while and I think moving back to centre and coming back to an organization he’s familiar with will give him a chance to get his game back to where it should be.”

Vasicek had began the season as the No. 2 centre for Nashville but the emergence of David Legwand made him expendable.

Belanger, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 while Vasicek, 26, will be a restricted free agent.

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Prior to joining Nashville in a trade last summer, Vasicek played five seasons with the Hurricanes, recording 55 goals and 71 assists in 316 regular-season games, and winning the Stanley Cup with the team last June.

The Hurricanes traded Vasicek to Nashville in exchange for winger Scott Walker last July. Vasicek had four goals and nine assists in 38 games with the Preds. The Hurricanes acquired Belanger from Los Angeles last September along with defenceman Tim Gleason, in exchange for defencemen Oleg Tverdovsky and top prospect Jack Johnson.

Belanger had eight goals and 12 assists in 56 games with Carolina.