March 9, 2004(TORONTO)
-- John Ferguson is full of surprises.
On his first trade deadline day as general manager of the Maple Leafs, he wasn't only looking to make deals but he also dipped into the free-agent pool and the waiver wire.
| Johansson brings the Leafs another reliable defender. |
Everyone at Air Canada Centre was stunned Tuesday when Calle Johansson showed up at the morning skate -- and he wasn't scouting for the Washington Capitals, he was there to play for the Leafs.
Shortly after securing the free agent, Ferguson made a waiver-wire pick up by taking forward Chad Kilger from the Montreal Canadiens.
The reason? Depth. To win the Stanley Cup, teams need to win 16 games in 54 days. That's a tough marathon to accomplish, but the Leafs believe they now have more capable bodies to meet that challenge. When you throw in the acquisition of Ron Francis, this has been a very busy day for Ferguson.
Johansson is now one of nine defenceman on the Leafs' roster. That gives head coach Pat Quinn lots of flexibility especially with Johansson who is noted for being a solid, puck-moving blueliner. And somehow in this intense media market Ferguson was able to keep this move a secret even though discussions began almost a month ago.
Johansson decided to come out of retirement for only one reason.
"I'm not doing this for any other reason than winning the Cup," Johansson said as he addressed the media horde in the Leafs' dressing room.
| Kilger beefs up Toronto's front line. |
The 37-year-old is used to playing with Leafs defenceman Ken Klee who Ferguson signed in the off-season. Johansson will not be in the lineup right away as he admitted that playing only twice a week in a beer league in Sweden hasn't left him in NHL condition. But, make no mistake, he intends to be ready in time for the playoffs.
Johansson has played for the Capitals and Buffalo Sabres in his 17-year NHL career. He is the Capitals all-time leader among defenceman in terms of points (529) and assists (410).
The wire acquisition of Kilger will help the Leafs in the size department at forward. Kilger is 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds and those qualities are always needed at playoff time to battle other big forwards in the East.
The Leafs were already deep up front before picking up Kilger but injuries can never be avoided and having the insurance like the 27 year-old native of Cornwall, Ontario could prove vital in a long playoff run.
This season, Kilger has played 36 games for Montreal collecting four points (two goals and two assists) with 14 penalty minutes. He has playoff experience playing in 23 games registering two points and 13 penalty minutes. The Leafs will be his seventh NHL club.