Born in Fors, Sweden, Tommy Westlund began his career with the Avesta BK club in the third and second divisions. In 1995-96 he moved up to the Brynas IF squad and was chosen 93rd overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft after a 29-goal season.
The next year he became more accustomed to the North American game, making his AHL debut with the New Haven Beast. Westlund was a solid role player in his first two NHL seasons before a back injury limited his 2001-02 season to a mere 40 games before returning to the line-up for the team's drive to the 2002 Stanley Cup final. The Hurricanes knocked off the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs before falling to the Detroit Red Wings in the final.
Westlund split the 2002-03 season with the Hurricanes and the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters.