Keep an eye on the Ducks after their trade with Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Ducks acquired a 2007 first-round draft pick and minor-league goalie Gerald Coleman from the Lightning in exchange for defenceman Shane O’Brien and a third-round pick in 2007.
The key to the deal for Anaheim is the first-round pick, something the Ducks didn’t have after dealing it to Edmonton in the Chris Pronger trade last summer. Now the Ducks can take a more serious run at either Keith Tkachuk or Bill Guerin before Tuesday’s NHL trade deadline, the two St. Louis Blues forwards on the trade block because they’re pending unrestricted free agents.
The Thrashers also have their eye on Tkachuk but in the meantime picked up a top-four defenceman Saturday night, acquiring veteran Alexei Zhitnik from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenceman Braydon Coburn.
“This is an experienced guy, he’s played 94 playoff games, this is what our hockey club needed,” Thrashers GM Don Waddell told The Canadian Press on Saturday night. “Coburn is a good prospect but we felt we needed this right now. And Zhitnik is signed for two more years so this isn’t a rental.”
The 34-year-old Zhitnik is joining his third team this season after beginning the year with the New York Islanders. He’s got two more seasons at US$3.5 million a year. Coburn, who turns 22 on Tuesday, was Atlanta’s first pick, eighth overall, in the 2003 NHL entry draft.
The Lightning, meanwhile, finally get a solid defenceman in O’Brien, something GM Jay Feaster has been trying to do all season long.
“We feel really good about this, we really like this player,” Feaster told The Canadian Press. “We have identified him for some time now.”
The 23-year-old O’Brien had two goals and 12 assists and 140 peanalty minutes in 62 games with the Ducks this season. He’ll be a restricted free agent July 1.
Two other players took their names off the trade market earlier Saturday, Eric Brewer and Marco Sturm signing new deals that will keep them with their current clubs.
The Blues re-signed Brewer to a US$17-million, four-year contract, a deal that will pay him an average of $4.25 million a season. Sturm will make an average of $3.5 million a season in his new deal after signing a $14-million, four-year contract to stay with the Boston Bruins.
Both players would have been unrestricted free agents July 1 and were garnering lots of interest on the trade market.
The Blues also re-signed 34-year-old goalie Manny Legace to a $4.3-million, two-year contract Saturday. The deal will pay him $1.8 million next season and $2.5 million in 2008-09. He was also due to be unrestricted July 1.
“This is a big day for the Blues organization as we move forward,” Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. “Both players have had an excellent season and we felt it was important to keep them in the fold as we continue to build.”
Brewer, 27, has 18 points (3-15) and an even-rating in 61 games this season and leads the Blues with 24:09 minutes played per game.
“Eric has been durable on the blue-line and he is having one of the best seasons in his NHL career,” said Davidson. “He will play a big part of our defence now and into the future with the Blues.”
Legace is 23-15-5 this season with a 2.59 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in his first season with St. Louis.
“Manny has been putting up the numbers that we expected him to do when we signed him last August,” said Davidson. “He has done terrific job for the club this season and has proven to be one of the top goaltenders in the NHL.”
The Blues are 11th in the Western Conference with a 26-26-9 record.
Sturm, 28, had 20 goals and 11 assists in 54 games before Saturday’s matchup at Florida.
“Marco is a highly skilled and extremely fast player who scores goals and shows enthusiasm to play in traffic,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said in a release. “He could have easily tested the free agency market, and in all likelihood would have received higher compensation, so we are thrilled that he chose to commit to Boston and our goal of building a highly competitive team for both now and for the future.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are very close to re-signing winger Fredrik Modin to a new deal. He was slated to be unrestricted July 1 as well. His deal should be announced before Tuesday.
In other moves Saturday:
-The Bruins claimed goalie Joey MacDonald off waivers from Detroit. MacDonald, 27, was 1-5-1 with a 3.46 GAA and .872 save percentage with the Red Wings this season. MacDonald, 27, will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
-The Dallas Stars claimed defenceman Nolan Baumgartner off re-entry waivers from Philadelphia. The Flyers will pay half of Baumgartner’s $1.2-million salary this season and next year because he was claimed on re-entry waivers.