Matt Cullen arrived as part of a diverse and talented batch of inexpensive free agent additions following the 2003-04 season and before the 2005-06 season. Cullen, like other Canes players, benefitted significantly from the rule and enforcement changes that opened the game up more for players that could skate. Cullen definitely fit the bill as a smooth-skating forward with skill to boot. After a little bit of line jostling early, he settled in for most of the 2005-06 regular season with Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose. The line clocked in at half the bulk and double the speed of an average NHL line which was a recipe for success in the up tempo 2005-06 NHL. The line was just too quick for NHL defenders to handle and all three players benefitted. Cullen had a career best 25 goals and 49 points (also had 49 points in 2007-08) while filling a variety of roles. On that team and others, Matt Cullen brought versatility. He could play power play (forward or point), penalty kill, center or wing, checking line or scoring line, etc. Wherever you had a need, Matt Cullen could fill it.
Matt Cullen brought the same versatility and scoring to the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs where he scored four goals and collected 14 assists in the Hurricanes 25 playoff games. With new personnel brought in at the trade deadline and a few injuries along the way, Cullen shifted around as needed but never missed a beat.
After leaving for one season following the magical 2005-06 season, Matt Cullen returned to have three consecutive 40-points seasons in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10. He was also instrumental in the Hurricanes return to the playoffs in 2009. In those playoffs he had three goals and three assists in 18 games played.
Over the course of his two runs in a Hurricanes sweater, Matt Cullen played 266 games and racked up 72 goals and 109 assists as a flexible skating forward who filled a variety of roles and played in two of the team’s three great playoff runs.