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Ducks deal for Beauchemin; Leafs get Lupul

by Adam Kimelman
The Anaheim Ducks bolstered their defense for the stretch run by bringing back an old face, acquiring Francois Beauchemin from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul, defense prospect Jake Gardiner and Anaheim's fourth-round pick in the 2013 Entry Draft.

"We are thrilled to be able to reacquire Francois," said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. "He is a physical, puck-moving defenseman with tremendous character. We would also like to wish Joffrey Lupul well in Toronto. He's worked very hard to return from a serious ailment and we hope he can get his career back on track."

Beauchemin played alongside Scott Niedermayer on the Ducks' defense when the team won the 2007 Stanley Cup. He had 4 goals and 8 points in 20 games in that run. It's the skill and familiarity that made Beauchemin an ideal acquisition for Murray.

"Randy (Carlyle, coach) and I know Beauch and we're very confident in his ability," Murray said during a conference call with reporters. "We know what we're getting here and know how he's going to play.

"We know the character of Beauch. We have a couple of kids here, and Beauch will handle being with those kids very well."

The 30-year-old Beauchemin had 12 points in 54 games for the Leafs this season, and was second on the team with 23:45 of ice time per game, including 2:48 per game shorthanded. He'll be able to take some of the load off the Ducks' top four blueliners, Lubomir Visnovsky, rookie Cam Fowler, Toni Lydman and Paul Mara, all of whom average more than 20 minutes per game.

Beauchemin said he never requested a trade, but had submitted to GM Brian Burke a list of teams he would OK a trade to, and Anaheim was one of them.

"I had a list of 12 teams and Anaheim was one of them," Beauchemin said. "I've played there before and we know the city and the players."

Burke said he felt comfortable with moving Beauchemin because he feels Keith Aulie is ready to become a full-time NHL player. The 6-foot-5, 217-pound Aulie, acquired last season from the Flames as part of the Dion Phaneuf deal, made his NHL debut earlier this season, going scoreless with a minus-5 rating in 12 games. He's spent most of the season with the AHL Toronto Marlies, where he has 9 points and 61 penalty minutes in 36 games.

"From my perspective we think Keith Aulie is ready to step in and help us," Burke said, adding he believes Aulie can become a top-four NHL defenseman. "As soon as we clear a roster spot we intend to do that. We watched him today and in my mind, he's ready to do that."

Burke was equally excited to have Lupul playing for him again. He had traded Lupul to the Edmonton Oilers as part of the Chris Pronger deal in 2006, and had tried to bring him back to Anaheim after the Oilers had sent him to Philadelphia.

"I believe in this player. I believe in this person," Burke said. "I believe he has a lot of hockey left in him. … This is a guy who can score goals.''

Lupul, 27, had just 5 goals in 26 games this season, but he's been slowed by injuries the last two seasons. He missed nearly a full year after back surgery and a subsequent blood disorder.

"It's tough to replace Joffrey's goals, but we felt this is what was best at this time," Murray said. "Joffrey has worked his butt off to get back in the lineup, but we're deep at forward. We wanted to help the defense."

Lupul said he wasn't at all surprised by the trade.

"Since I came back with Anaheim this season, it kind of seemed like I didn't have a place on their team," Lupul said on a conference call. "I didn't get a ton of opportunity, so I can't say I'm shocked it would happen. I talked to Burkie, talked to Ron Wilson and they said I would get an opportunity. That's all I can ask for, an opportunity to get my career back on track to where it was going before all the injuries happened."
"I had a list of 12 teams and Anaheim was one of them.  I've played there before and we know the city and the players." -- Francois Beauchemin
In five full NHL seasons, Lupul has scored at least 20 goals three times, and he sees a lot more good times ahead of him.

"I feel I can get my game back to where it was and above that," Lupul said. "I know my best hockey is ahead of me. … I'm going to get an opportunity to be a top-six player. That's all I can ask for is an opportunity. I'm confident. I feel I can play to a level I was at before. I'm looking forward to an opportunity to get back to playing the way I know I can."

Wilson told reporters he expects Lupul to play on a line with Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak. Lupul said he and MacArthur shared a billet playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.

"We need to score more goals and giving Lupul an opportunity here, he should be able to help us offensively," Wilson said. "But we have to be patient. He hasn't played much in the last two years. But in the past he's shown he can score and score in big situations."

Gardiner, the 17th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft, is a 20-year-old prospect currently playing for the University of Wisconsin. He has 7 goals, 30 points and a plus-20 rating in 30 games this season for the Badgers. He helped Wisconsin advance to the NCAA championship game last season and has career totals of 16 goals and 64 points in 110 collegiate games.

"He's a real good skater," Burke said. "We project him as a top-four defenseman. He's not ready yet. We'll see what happens as far as his future at the University of Wisconsin. He's a skilled, hard-working, powerful skater, has a lot of jump in his skating. That's why he was drafted as high as he was."

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