VANCOUVER – By dealing for some grit and picking up a some secondary scoring ability, the Vancouver Canucks believe they have added a couple more pieces needed for a run at the Stanley Cup.
As expected, the Canucks were content to tinker and didn’t do anything major at Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
Vancouver acquired agitator Maxim Lapierre and minor-league centre MacGregor Sharp from the Anaheim Ducks for centre Joel Perrault and a 2012 third-round pick.
The Canucks also picked up left-winger Chris Higgins from the Florida Panthers for defenceman Evan Oberg and a 2013 third-round pick.
“I think we made our team a little bit better today,” said general manager Mike Gillis. “You have to try and do that. I think we added experience and we added a little bit of a different element than we posses on this team currently.
“With Chris Higgins we have a player that can move up and down the lineup. With Maxim Lapierre we have a third-line/fourth-line player that can play with some grit and sandpaper and add a dimension that we don’t currently have.”
Gillis has helped assemble one of the best teams in Canuck history. Vancouver’s record of 39-15-9 for 87 points leads the league.
Happy with his starring cast, Gillis was satisfied with making additions to the supporting roles.
“We worked really hard the last couple of years to assemble this team,” he said. “When you’re in first place it’s pretty difficult to try to replace parts with other parts.
“We weren’t inclined to remove anybody off our lineup.”
In Lapierre, the Canucks get a six-foot-two, 207-pound centre who can irritate opposition players. He likely will play on Vancouver’s fourth line.
The former Montreal Canadien also brings playoff experience. He had three goals and one assist in 19 post-season contests with Montreal last season.
“That’s my type of game,” Lapierre said during a telephone conference call. “I am a playoff type of guy.
“I’m a good skater. I’m a hard worker. I keep things simple on the ice. I can score some big goals once in a while.”
Lapierre, 25, has split this season between Montreal and Anaheim. He has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 59 games. In 314 career NHL games he has 83 points (40-43).
Higgins has the ability to play on any of the Canucks lines, but will likely see most of his time on the third and fourth lines. At six foot and 205 pounds, he has the size to be physical. The 27-year-old also has shown a touch around the net, having scored 20 or more goals three times in his career.
“I have been a pretty versatile player and used in a variety of situations,” Higgins said. “I’m just looking at building chemistry with who ever I play with.
“If I can score some goals that would be great. I’m just looking forward to finding my niche on the team.”
Higgins has 23 points (11-12) in 48 games this season. He has 191 points (103-88) in 397 career NHL games with Montreal, Calgary, Florida and the New York Rangers.
Higgins is currently recovering from a broken thumb. Gillis said “it’s not a major injury.”
Both players are expected to be in Vancouver for Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sharp, 25, has 13 points (6-7) in 50 games this season with Syracuse of the AHL.
Gillis said the players came at a price the Canucks felt comfortable paying.
“In our minds we gave up some players . . . and some draft picks that down the road we think we can either re-aquire or fill in with free-agent signings,” he said.
Perrault did not record a point in seven games with the Canucks. He has 18 points (3-15) in 26 games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
The Canucks also re-assigned centre Cody Hodgson and right-winger Victor Oreskovich to the Moose.
Gillis said the Canucks did receive inquires about Hodgson and backup goaltender Cory Schneider, but wasn’t willing to part with either player.
The Canucks talked to other teams about potential deals, but feltthe price was too high.
“We talked to a lot of teams about a lot of different possibilities,” he said. “I felt the prices were really high early in the day, much higher than we were prepared to spend.”