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NHL Trade Roundup: Canucks, Wings pick up some help on eve of trading deadline

The Canucks acquired defenceman Brent Sopel and centre Bryan Smolinski in separate deals Monday night, while the Wings completed a three-way deal that landed them winger Kyle Calder. The New York Islanders also picked up winger Richard Zednik while the Florida Panthers were waiting on Gary Roberts to see if he would accept a move to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Oh, and the trade deadline isn't until Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

The Canucks are on fire and GM Dave Nonis was hoping to add a centre and blue-liner for the stretch run. Mission accomplished. Nonis got Smolinski from Chicago in exchange for a conditional second-round draft pick in either 2007 or 2008 and then also brought Sopel back from Los Angeles in exchange for a second-round pick in either 2007 or 2008 as well as a fourth-round pick in 2008.

"I think our depth is much better, much improved," said Nonis. "They are both players who were very productive this year."

After a slow start, the Canucks have moved into third place in the NHL's Western Conference. Nonis thinks Vancouver is now in position to make a run in the playoffs.

"We have a team that has steadily improved as the year has gone on," added Nonis. "The players have worked very hard to put themselves in a position where we are more than competitive. If you are in that position you have to at least see what you can do to shore up your club."

Both Sopel and Smolinski are slated to be unrestricted free agents July 1 and have been on the trade block for quite some time.

Likewise, Calder will be UFA and the Flyers have been shopping him. He fills Detroit's search for a top-six forward although GM Ken Holland may not be done dealing. The Flyers first sent Calder to Chicago in exchange for a third-round pick in 2007 and Lasse Kukkonen. The Hawks then flipped Calder to the Wings in exchange for winger Jason Williams.

"We like Kyle Calder, we like his grit," Holland told The Canadian Press on Monday night. "We really wanted to get a little grittier heading into the playoffs."

The Islanders hope to make the playoffs and they added some offence in Zednik, another pending UFA who was unable to come to terms on an extension with the Capitals.

The Capitals could also move No. 1 centre Dainius Zubrus prior to Tuesday's deadline if they are unable to reach an agreement on a contact extension with the pending unrestricted free agent.

"We would like to sign a deal and it has to be a good hockey decision," Caps GM George McPhee said Monday. "If the numbers are right and it makes sense for the hockey department then ownership will provide the money. Right now we're not there yet."

McPhee said he hoped to talk to Zubrus' agent again before the deadline.

"He wants to stay in Washington but it has to be the right deal," said Zubrus' agent Jerrold Colton.

McPhee also made a minor deal Monday, acquiring defenceman Andy Hedlund and a sixth-round draft pick in 2007 from the Ottawa Senators for defenceman Lawrence Nycholat.

Roberts, meanwhile, was trying to decide if he should waive his no-trade clause for a move to the Penguins, a source told CP.

Roberts, 40, could still turn down the Pittsburgh deal and ask the Panthers to re-visit talks with other clubs, notably the two teams he really wants to move to: Ottawa and Toronto.

In fact, a source confirmed to CP on Monday night that the Leafs have made an offer for Roberts.

The biggest name on the market remained in St. Louis as of Monday night. The Blues continued to field offers for Bill Guerin while at the same time contacting his agent Monday to begin very preliminary contract talks. The veteran winger is slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1 and is considered the biggest name left on the trade market.

"I just got off the phone with (Blues GM) Larry Pleau and (Blues president) John Davidson a little while ago," Guerin's agent Bob Murray said Monday afternoon. "There's been some discussion. It's not anything in-depth at this point. We're just waiting to see where it goes from there, we've left it in their lap at this point.

"If they want to proceed with signing Billy, obviously we'll hear more, or they could still trade him."

Fredrik Modin isn't going anywhere. The Swedish winger officially signed a US$9.75-million, three-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was slated to be unrestricted July 1.

"He's a character person, he's a leader, he's a winner," said Jackets GM Doug MacLean. "He wanted to be here and be part of the program and we really wanted him. And when you trade Marc Denis for a player like Freddie and (Fredrik) Norrena you want to keep those assets."

Norrena signed a two-year extension earlier this month. He was acquired from Tampa Bay along with Modin last June 30 in exchange for Denis.

MacLean also waived Bryan Berard on Monday. The defenceman was one of nine players put on waivers around the league.

Berard has been on the trade block for a month. He's an unrestricted free agent July 1 but carries a $2.5-million salary this season, which could scare away clubs too close to the $44-million salary cap.

Other players put on 24-hour waivers Monday included: Marc Chouinard, Vancouver; Aaron Downey, Montreal; Petr Cajanek, St. Louis; Niko Kapanen and Denis Hamel, Atlanta; Michael Leighton, Philadelphia; Jason Krog, N.Y. Rangers and Brian Boucher, Chicago.

Chouinard, who has been a disappointment this season, has another year on his deal next season at $1.1 million.

With Alex Kovalev returning from a sore elbow in Montreal, the Canadiens needed to open a roster spot so Downey was put on waivers. The tough winger has played in only 21 games this season and was a healthy scratch for the last six games. He has one goal, no assists and 48 penalty minutes this season. He's earning $475,000 this season and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Cajanek could be tempting for some playoff-bound clubs looking for scoring. He's making $1.7 million this season and $2 million next season.

Kapanen and Hamel were waived after the Thrashers added Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik to the lineup over the weekend. Kapanen is earning $800,000 this season and $900,000 next year.

Meanwhile, the rumour mill continued to churn Monday. One name that surfaced yet again is Jason Blake, the Islanders' leading scorer. Unable to come to terms on a new contract, the Isles could be willing to move the pending unrestricted free agent despite being in a playoff race. Two GMs, who requested anonymity, told CP that Blake was available. The 33-year-old winger is attracting attention from several Western Conference teams.

And what about Todd Bertuzzi? Another pending unrestricted free agent, Bertuzzi hasn't played since October and still isn't ready to return after recovering from back surgery. But Panthers GM Jacques Martin told CP over the weekend that teams were still calling about him.



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