NEWARK, N.J. – Jason Arnott seemingly is going to get another shot at a Stanley Cup.
The New Jersey Devils traded the veteran centre to the Washington Capitals on Monday for centre David Steckel and a 2012 second-round draft pick.
Arnott had to waive his no-trade clause for the Devils to make the deal, and Washington was one of the teams he felt gave him a chance to win another Cup, especially playing with Alex Ovechkin.
“There weren’t many … centres available, and he was one that a lot of people wanted to have,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “He’s been the captain of an NHL team, he’s won a Cup—and those kinds of intangibles, I think, were something we wanted in the room.”
Stuck in second place in the Southeast Division after three consecutive titles, the Capitals also got defenceman Dennis Wideman in a deal with the Florida Panthers on the league’s trade deadline day. Wideman will help Washington until defenceman Mike Green can return from a head injury. McPhee said Green will be sidelined “at least a couple of weeks, maybe longer.”
New Jersey has made a frantic playoff push in the past two months, posting a 17-2-2 record to move to within nine points of a playoff berth with 20 games to play in the regular season.
Still, the Devils are only 13th in the Eastern Conference and will have to pass five teams to keep alive their streak of making the post-season every year since 1997.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said he would not have made the deal without getting something in return, noting Steckel is one of the top faceoff men in the NHL. The draft choice also gives him a chance to land a prospect down the road.
“We felt that in order for us to trade Jason Arnott, we had to bring a player into our lineup that would not miss a beat with the type of team we had,” Lamoriello said. “It had to be a perfect fit because we don’t want to lose anything in what has been happening.”
Arnott gives Washington a big, strong centre, who has been a clutch playoff performer with 66 points in 106 post-season games. He scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Devils in the second overtime of Game 6 in their series with Dallas in 2000.
Arnott also has a hard shot that can be very effective on the power play. He had 13 goals and 11 assists in his second stint with the Devils, who acquired him in an off-season trade with Nashville.
“I’m at the end of my career,” Arnott said. “I want a chance at another Stanley Cup.
“I think Washington has a good potential to be a Stanley Cup championship team.”
Steckel had five goals and six assists in 57 games. The 28-year-old has two seasons left on his contract.
“He can be used in all situations,” Lamoriello said, “especially when the game is on the line.”
Lamoriello was adamant the Devils were not throwing in the towel by dealing one of their top players.
“Exactly the opposite,” he said. “Unquestionably. We will continue to do what we have done: take it one game and one day at a time. The ultimate goal is to have success and let the end result take care of itself. But this is a player we talked about.”
Steckel gained notoriety at the start of the year for a blindside hit to the head of Sidney Crosby on Jan. 1 in the Winter Classic. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar also was hit in the head Jan. 5 by the Lightning’s Victor Hedman and he has not played since.
Steckel said he was looking the other way and turned and collided with Crosby.
“It obviously wasn’t intentional,” Steckel said at the time.