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Ducks show they're all in with trade for Robidas

by Curtis Zupke

Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray sent a message Tuesday that he's all in, and yet it's possible he could have more cards in his hand.

"The phones are still ringing and I'm still making calls," Murray told reporters after he made a series of trades to ultimately acquire defenseman Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars.

"There's never a final move. You're always trying to make your hockey team better. This makes our team more difficult to play against. Just go ask our forwards. They didn't enjoy playing against this guy."

Robidas is exactly the player Anaheim needed to plug in on its blue line for the Stanley Cup Playoffs: a shutdown veteran hungry to win and a possible right-handed partner for Francois Beauchemin. Robidas broke his leg Nov. 29 and said Tuesday "the leg is feeling great" and "I'm hoping to be ready in about two weeks."

Robidas, 37, last played a playoff game in 2008. That drought will soon end.

"That's the first thing that came to my mind," Robidas said. "I've been waiting five years … it's huge for me. I'm not getting any younger. Every year you want to be a part of the playoffs and you want to have a chance at the Stanley Cup."

Robidas is familiar with Anaheim, having been through regular-season games and two playoff series, in 2003 and 2008.

"I remembered it was always a big rivalry," he said. "It was always big battles. Obviously there's been a lot of battles between me and [Corey] Perry over the years, and I'm just glad he's on my team now."

The other need for the Ducks is a forward with size, preferably at center because they are somewhat undersized with Mathieu Perreault and Saku Koivu behind Ryan Getzlaf. Anaheim ranks 22nd in faceoff win percentage. Among the names believed to be outside possibilities for the Ducks are wing Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders, but Vanek carries a $6.4 million salary-cap charge as an upcoming unrestricted free agent.

Robidas was acquired for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. Anaheim also traded inconsistent left wing Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals for a fourth-round pick in 2014, and goalie Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers for a fifth-round pick in 2014.

Fasth became expendable because of the emergence of 6-foot-4, 230-pound rookie Frederik Andersen, who is 15-3-0 with a 2.12 goals-against average. The Ducks also have prized goalie prospect John Gibson in their system, which makes the line of succession well defined although Murray needs to re-sign impending free agent No. 1 Jonas Hiller.

Fasth hasn't played an NHL game since Nov. 18 because of lower-body inflammation, but proved last season that at 31 his international background was more than enough pedigree to succeed in the NHL. He recently completed a conditioning assignment with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League.

"Viktor is a class act and a great guy," Murray said. "He battled to get back. This year didn't go the way I expected it to go as far as my goaltending. You've watched Freddie Andersen play, so I don't need to say anything else. And you've got Jonas Hiller there. That had to be cleaned up for the sake of the hockey team. Too many people around, too much uncertainty, as a former player, is not a good thing. I felt it had to be done."

Penner signed a one-year, $2 million contract in the summer with probably the only team willing to take a low-risk chance on him, and the Ducks reunited him with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. But Penner showed up to training camp out of shape and didn't even make it through the preseason without being taken off the top line. He was scratched for the season opener and was set back by a concussion.

Penner came back strong and his presence on the Getzlaf line gave him 23 points in his first 24 games. At one point earlier this season he led the NHL in plus-minus. But Penner tapered off and has nine points in his past 25 games.

Getzlaf, who pushed Murray to sign his friend Penner, told The Los Angeles Times he had no voice in the move. The Ducks have multiple candidates to fill that top-line left-wing spot, starting with Kyle Palmieri.

"It's unfortunate for Dustin," Murray said. "He worked hard and played hard here. He got his weight down. I wish him nothing but the best, but it was the one that worked right now."

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