Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis were acquired by the Edmonton Oilers in separate trades for the forwards Monday.
"We felt we'd like to do something to put a little buzz into our team," Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said. "... They've played hard all year, battled and scratched and clawed, and we've got ourselves in a position where we're fighting for a [Stanley Cup] Playoff spot. We're banged up a little bit, and I wanted to provide some depth. I just think it was my time to try to pitch in."
The Oilers got Athanasiou with forward Ryan Kuffner from the Detroit Red Wings for forward Sam Gagner and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and 2021 NHL Draft. Ennis was acquired from the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft.
Athanasiou is in the final season of a two-year contract and can become a restricted free agent July 1. The 25-year-old forward has 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 46 games this season and is an NHL-worst minus-45.
"Athanasiou is a player I know very well from [being GM in Detroit], had 30 goals a year ago," Holland said. "It's more than a rental. He's a restricted free agent for a couple of years. Certainly, we paid a price for Athanasiou, but no risk, no gain."
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Ennis, a 30-year-old center, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He has 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 61 games this season.
The Oilers (33-22-7), who play at the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, SNW, NHL.TV), are in second place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks and three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for first.
"At the end of the day, my message today was that we're trying to win," Edmonton general manager Ken Holland said. "I've come to Edmonton and we've got a great nucleus and they've played hard to put ourselves in this position where we compete for a playoff spot.
"The last three years, I was a seller [as GM of the Red Wings], and we made the playoffs for 25 years before. It's fun to be in the playoffs. It's fun for the fans, for the players to have an opportunity to go against a team for two weeks, and then if you're able to win that, to move on to the next round and be in the final eight and the final four."
Edmonton will retain 10 percent of the salary for Gagner, who has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 36 games this season. The 30-year-old forward is in the final season of a three-year, $9.45 million contract ($3.15 million average annual value) he signed with the Canucks on July 1, 2017.
Gagner, who was selected by the Oilers with the No. 6 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, played his first seven NHL seasons in Edmonton before being reacquired in a trade from the Canucks for Ryan Spooner on Feb. 16, 2019. He has 458 points (163 goals, 295 assists) in 838 regular-season games with the Oilers, Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, and four assists in 11 playoff games.
Athanasiou has 154 points (83 goals, 71 assists) in 294 regular-season games and one goal in five playoff games.
"We're rebuilding," Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman said. "We've got to give up something if we want to be a good team three, four, five years down the road, and somewhere along the way we're going to have to hit on some of these picks, and the only way to do it is to keep them and get more."
Ennis has 309 points (131 goals, 178 assists) in 604 regular-season games with the Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres. He has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 19 playoff games.
"Today was a good day in advancing the plan that we have for the rebuild," Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said. "I think if you sum up the day, you look at the sum of the draft picks that we got. I think it was important for us to do that."
Kuffner had nine points (six goals, three assists) in 32 games for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League this season. The 23-year-old forward, who was signed by Detroit as an undrafted free agent March 12, 2019, played 10 games with the Red Wings in 2018-19.