Canucks deal for centre Smolinski from Chicago, re-acquire defenceman Sopel

Vancouver landed centre Bryan Smolinski from the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional second-round draft pick, then re-acquired former Canuck defenceman Brent Sopel from the Los Angeles Kings for conditional second-and fourth-round draft picks.

Sopel said he’s thrilled to return to the team that took him in the sixth round of the 1995 draft.

“‘I’m excited to be back in Vancouver,” he said during a conference call from Los Angeles. “What ever I have to do, I’ll do.”

Sopel, 30, had four goals and 19 assists in 44 games for the Kings this year.

Smolinski, 35, is a reliable two-way centre who had 14 goals and 23 points in 62 games for the Blackhawks. The 14-year veteran, who becomes a free agent July 1, has also scored 20 goals and 25 assists in 99 playoff games.

Sopel said he’s glad to be leaving the Kings, who are last in the NHL’s Western Conference, for the Canucks, who currently sit third in the Western Conference.

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“‘It’s a playoff spot, that’s what we play for and it’s been a while since I’ve been in the playoffs,” he said. “We play 82 games as a warmup to play in the playoffs.

“When you’re out as early as we were it is frustrating.”

Earlier on Monday, the Canucks waived centre Marc Chouinard.

Sopel spent parts of six seasons with Vancouver before being dealt Aug. 3, 2005, to the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft.

The Islanders traded Sopel to the Kings on March 8, 2006, with Mark Parrish for Denis Grebeshkov, Jeff Tambellini, and a conditional 2006 draft pick.