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Published February 13 2010

Moorhead's Cullen traded from Hurricanes to Senators

Matt Cullen is headed to a Stanley Cup contender.

The Moorhead High School graduate was traded Friday from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a young defenseman and a 2010 second-round draft pick.

“I’m excited to go to Ottawa,” Cullen said. “It will be a good opportunity to win the Cup. … It’s kind of the way of it now with the salary cap. I wasn’t completely shocked by it. I was prepared for something to happen.”

Cullen, 33, provides the Senators with a talented and versatile veteran for the NHL’s stretch run.

A top-flight passer, Cullen has 12 goals and 28 assists this season. He was tied for second on the Hurricanes in assists.

Cullen, who was in his second stint with Carolina, helped the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup title in 2005-06.

He is ninth on Carolina’s all-time scoring list with 181 points in 266 games since the team relocated from Hartford in 1997.

“He’s a hard-working guy and he’s a versatile player most importantly,” Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray told ESPN.com of Cullen. “He can play center, he can kill penalties, he can play left wing, he played the point on the power play for Carolina at times. He’s a player we like a lot.”

The Senators took over the lead in the Northeast Division on Thursday and are currently tied for third in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. The Hurricanes are 14th in the Eastern Conference after wins in eight of their last 10 games.

Cullen said he was summoned to Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford’s office when he showed up to practice Friday and was given the news he was traded. He then had a short phone conversation with Murray before boarding a flight for Ottawa.

Cullen will be with the Senators for two games before the NHL takes a break for the Olympics.

Cullen said he will use the Olympic break to move his family from Raleigh, N.C., to West Fargo. His wife, Bridget, is expecting the couple’s third child in May.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking with the coaches (in Ottawa),” Cullen said. “I’ve been used in a lot of different ways here in Carolina, so I feel very prepared for whatever needs to be done (in Ottawa).”

In exchange for Cullen, the Hurricanes received 24-year-old defenseman Alexandre Picard and a draft pick.

Picard had four goals and 11 assists in 45 games with Ottawa.

Moorhead High School graduate Brian Lee was called up by the Ottawa Senators from their affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., after the trade to help replace Picard. Lee has played 13 games with the Senators this season.

Cullen will make $2.8 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in July.

“This is a sad day for us,” Rutherford told the Charlotte Observer. “Matt has meant a lot to the organization and we wish him well. Maybe we can sign him back.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562. The Associated Press contributed to this report.