The Washington Capitals announced Saturday morning they have traded defenseman Jack Hillen, and a fourth-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft, to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Tim Gleason.
The move helps the Capitals add toughness on defense, as Gleason said Saturday afternoon he had been told by coach Barry Trotz that he will assume Hillen’s role in the third pairing with Mike Green.
It also comes two days before the league’s trade deadline, which is on Monday.
“When I found out where I was going, I was pretty excited, obviously,” Gleason said in a conference call with reporters. “It’s a playoff team, and coming from [Carolina], we weren’t in the playoff [picture], so this is real exciting to be in the race. I’m just really looking forward to moving along here.”
Gleason, 32, was owed $1.2 million this season is also set to become an unrestricted free agent when it ends. A left-handed shot, he played in 55 of 60 games for the Hurricanes this season, scoring one goal with six assists while also recording 44 penalty minutes.
He played just over 17 minutes in the Hurricanes’ 3-0 home victory on the Capitals on Friday night, taking one shot. Gleason found it slightly amusing that he was traded to the team he played against the day before.
“It’s funny how things work,” Gleason said. “You play these guys last night, you have some battles on the ice … and all the forwards you’re playing against are the people you’re playing with the next day. It’s funny how the league works once in a while, but I’ll be shaking hands with these guys tomorrow, which will be pretty funny.”
He broke into the NHL during the 2003-04 season, playing 47 games for the Los Angeles Kings, and was traded to Carolina shortly before the 2006-07 season began. After being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs midway through last season, he returned to Carolina on a one-year contract.
“We are pleased to welcome Tim to our organization,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a press release. “Tim is a veteran, physical defenseman and we feel his experience, toughness and skill set further strengthens our blue line.”
Hillen, 29, played in 35 games for the Capitals this season, almost exclusively alongside Green, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He had five assists while playing approximately 12 minutes a game, practically all of it at even strength.
“Tim has been a steady presence on and off the ice for our team, and I wish him all the best in Washington,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “This gives us a chance to take a look at Jack for the remainder of the season and continue to accumulate assets for a deep draft this summer.”
To make room for Gleason on the roster, the Capitals also put left wing Aaron Volpatti on waivers, according to TSN and Sportsnet. Volpatti spent much of the season on long-term injured reserve as he recovered from offseason surgery on his neck and played just two games for Washington this season.
The fourth-round draft pick originally belonged to the Arizona Coyotes and was acquired by the Capitals a year ago at the trade deadline, when they shipped out right wing Martin Erat.