ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -The Anaheim Ducks are going after a playoff spot with two veteran additions to their beleaguered defense.
The Ducks acquired high-scoring defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday in a trade for U.S. Olympic defenseman Ryan Whitney. Anaheim also acquired Aaron Ward from Carolina to bolster its struggling blue line.
The busy Ducks later swapped backup goalies with Calgary, trading Vesa Toskala to the Flames for Curtis McElhinney, and traded center Petteri Nokelainen to Phoenix for a sixth-round pick.
Edmonton also will get a sixth-round draft pick in the deal for the 33-year-old Visnovsky, who is returning to Southern California after spending his first seven NHL seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. The four-time Slovak Olympian and former NHL All-Star has 32 points in 57 games this season with the lowly Oilers.
"We feel this is a major addition for us, not only for our stretch drive but going forward," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said.
Anaheim traded third-string goalie Justin Pogge and a fourth-round pick to Carolina for Ward, a stay-at-home defenseman who has 11 points in 60 games with the Hurricanes this season. The 37-year-old Ward is a shot-blocking specialist who should provide a much-needed physical presence.
The Ducks' defense has struggled in front of goalie Jonas Hiller since the offseason departures of Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin, surrendering 189 goals - third-worst in the Western Conference.
Its poor play has been a major reason Anaheim headed into Wednesday's meeting with Colorado in 11th place in the Western Conference, three points behind Detroit for the final playoff spot, despite a wealth of elite offensive talent including Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Whitney has 28 points in 62 games this season with the Ducks, who acquired him in a deal with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2009. The Olympian generally was a disappointment for Anaheim, but was optimistic about turning around his season after winning a silver medal in Vancouver.
Visnovsky has three years and $14 million left on his contract, while Whitney has three years and $15 million left - but Visnovsky's salary is set to decline in his final two years.
As Murray promised, the Ducks didn't move captain Scott Niedermayer, who has 37 points and a minus-17 rating in what might be his final NHL season.
Anaheim recalled goalie Timo Pielmeier from its ECHL affiliate in Bakersfield to serve as Hiller's backup until McElhinney's arrival. Toskala never played for the Ducks after they acquired him from Toronto on Jan. 31 along with Jason Blake in a deal for Jean-Sebastien Giguere.