As offseasons go, Erik Haula certainly won’t forget this one.
The former Gophers and Wild forward got married, went on his honeymoon and continued his rehab on knee injury suffered in early November.
And, oh yeah, he was traded from Vegas to Carolina in late June, getting word three days before his wedding that he would have a new hockey home.
“It’s been busy,’’ said Haula, who made his season debut in Da Beauty League on July 24. “… It’s been interesting for sure.’’
Haula, 28, had an outstanding season with the Golden Knights in 2017-18, amassing 26 goals and 29 assists, both career highs, and adding nine points in the playoffs in helping the expansion team reach the Stanley Cup Final.
His Vegas sequel, however, ended only 15 games into last season. On Nov. 6 at Toronto, Haula’s right skate got caught in the ice while he was checked along the boards by the Maple Leafs’ Patrick Marleau. The leg twisted, Haula fell to the ice in agony and later was taken off the ice by stretcher. Surgery and a long rehab ensued.
In two games in Da Beauty League play so far, Haula hasn’t always flashed the speed that’s been his calling card throughout his Gophers and NHL career. That’s by design.
“It’s good, it’s a lot of hard work and this is the first time I’ve played in a game since November when I got hurt,’’ said Haula, who opened Da Beauty League play sporting the white-and-gold gloves from his time with the Golden Knights. “I’m taking it easy and just getting back into the swing of things. I’m not trying to do too much. It’s fun to be out there, and every week I’m sure will feel better and better.’’
Haula’s other adjustment will come later this summer when he joins the Hurricanes for training camp. He has yet to visit Raleigh since the trade – which came about because the Golden Knights needed to shed salary to get under the cap -- but has talked to several of his new teammates. The first to text him was Nino Niederreiter, with whom he played in Minnesota and who also was traded to the Hurricanes.
“We’ve chatted a little bit, and it’s all been positive,’’ Haula said. “… We’re friends and have stayed friends since I departed Minnesota. It’s good to have those friendships going on a new team.’’
Haula is going from a veteran Vegas team that made the playoffs in its first two seasons of existence to an up-and-coming Carolina squad that ended a nine-year playoff drought and advanced to the Eastern Conference final this spring.
“It’s a good young group, and it’s heading in the right direction,’’ Haula said. “I’ve only heard good things about [coach] Rod Brind’Amour, so that’s a good sign. Guys are usually honest about coaches, so it’s good to not hear any negative feedback.’’