ST. LOUIS - Doug Armstrong was looking to add some defensive depth at the NHL Trade Deadline, and that's exactly what he did.
Just minutes before the 2 p.m. deadline passed, Armstrong made a deal with the Anaheim Ducks to acquire defenseman Michael Del Zotto in exchange for a sixth-round pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.
"We were hoping to add a depth defenseman, more based on (Carl) Gunnarsson's injury," Armstrong told stlouisblues.com after the deadline. "We wanted to have depth as we enter the stretch run. Guys have done a real good job, and this just gives us an added layer that we didn't have yesterday."
Del Zotto, 28, was a first-round draft pick (No. 20 overall) of the New York Rangers in 2008. He has split this season with the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, posting one goal and six assists in 35 games between the clubs.
"We knew my name was out there," Del Zotto told stlouisblues.com of the trade deadline. "Being traded to Anaheim (earlier this season) and not being in a playoff spot, my 10th year in the business and understanding the business side of things, I understood something may happen. I got the call right at the deadline at 12 Pacific Time from (Ducks) GM Bob Murray.
"I'm pretty excited and grateful for the opportunity," added Del Zotto, who is already familiar with Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, Robby Fabbri and Blues Head Coach Craig Berube. "Understanding where the team is in the standings and the hot streak they've been on as of late, I can't wait to get there and get started."
Video: Del Zotto arrives in St. Louis
Overall, Del Zotto has played in 601 career games over nine seasons and has recorded 218 points (54 goals, 164 assists). The Stouffville, Ontario native has produced 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 32 postseason appearances.
"I came into the League as an offense player," Del Zotto said. "But as you get older and mature and understand the game and the way it's played, I can play in all situations. Whatever situation I'm put in by the coaching staff, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability to help the team win. That's my main focus."
Because of the Blues' recent upward trend, this year's deadline wasn't as active for Armstrong and his staff. Despite being 15-18-4 and tied for last place in the League on Jan. 1, the Blues have surged into the NHL's best team in the calendar year, posting a 17-5-2 record (36 points). That run includes a franchise-record 11-game winning streak that has lifted the Blues into a divisional playoff spot and third in the Western Conference.
Video: Armstrong on adding Del Zotto at deadline
"One of the things we didn't want to do was upset the chemistry of this group," Armstrong said of the trade deadline. "Last year, we made a difficult decision (by trading Paul Stastny to Winnipeg) because of the trend of our team… We like our depth. We want to continue to create those opportunities for younger players like (Mackenzie) MacEachern, we've seen Sammy Blais play for us this year, we've seen (Oskar) Sundqvist get better, we've seen (Zach) Sanford get better.
"It's a good group to stand pat."
The acquisition of Del Zotto means the Blues assigned Chris Butler back to the San Antonio Rampage. In addition, Sammy Blais and Jordan Kyrou have also been assigned to San Antonio.
"I want to win, and I know that's why Doug brought me in, to help out with that," Del Zotto said. "However I can help the team win, that's what I'm there for. To me, there aren't any real holes in the lineup. If the group can stay healthy, I'm confident in what we can do."