The winds of change are blowing through Carolina.

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes named Eric Staal the team’s new captain and also asked leading scorer Ray Whitney and defenceman Niclas Wallin to waive their no trade clauses.

While general manager Jim Rutherford says he expects the team to compete for the rest of the season, he indicated that he’ll likely trade away some veteran players before the March 3 deadline.

Whitney and Wallin join a list of player believed to be available for trade that also includes Matt Cullen, Scott Walker, Stephane Yelle, Andrew Alberts, Aaron Ward and Manny Legace.

Carolina sits 30th in the National Hockey League and is clearly positioning for first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The move to change the captaincy was discussed for some time with both Staal and veteran forward Rod Brind’Amour for some time.

”The time has come now for Eric to assume the top leadership role for his teammates,” Rutherford said in a statement.

”This is part of the rebuilding process for the Hurricanes, as Eric is the player around whom the team will be structured. We feel confident in Eric’s ability to lead his teammates and are excited to begin this next era.”

Brind’Amour had served as the team’s captain since August of 2005 and will remain as an alternate captain.

”Rod has been the consummate leader for the Hurricanes since his acquisition nearly 10 years ago,” said Rutherford. ”He is the only captain in franchise history to lift the Stanley Cup, and he will continue to play a leadership role in our organization.”

Sources say that Brind’Amour was given veto power over the captaincy change and he chose not to use it.