Carolina trades Eric Belanger to Nashville in exchange for Josef Vasicek

Both players earn US$1.3 million this season.

“We’re obviously very familiar with Joe and the type of game he is capable of bringing to the Hurricanes,” Carolina GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement. “Going back to his natural position of centre, with his size and strength, will help our team down the stretch.”

The Hurricanes felt Belanger wasn’t a great fit as their No. 3 centre. 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.