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'Hawks get veteran center Pahlsson

by Brian Compton
Looking to add some veteran depth up front, the Chicago Blackhawks acquired center Samuel Pahlsson, defenseman Logan Stephenson and a conditional draft pick in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola right before the trade deadline on Wednesday.

Pahlsson, 31, has five goals and 10 assists with 32 penalty minutes in 52 games this season. He led Ducks' centers with a 54.0 faceoff winning percentage and ranked third among team forwards with an average time on ice of 18:30 per game. He was a member of Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup championship squad, posting 12 points and 20 penalty minutes in 21 contests during that run.

Chicago GM Dale Tallon described it as "a fruitful day" for his team, as his Blackhawks added a piece they had long sought in a veteran center behind captain Jonathan Toews.

"We addressed a need. We needed a shutdown centerman and a veteran guy who has won a Stanley Cup," Tallon said on Wednesday. "We felt we had to address that so we could go deeper into the rest of the season and the playoffs. [Pahlsson's] the kind of player who has had success. He gives us that veteran presence up the middle. Winning breeds winning, and the more winners you have in your locker room, the better off you'll be."

Stephenson, 23, has skated in 44 American Hockey League contests this season with the Iowa Chops and San Antonio Rampage, registering four points and 61 penalty minutes. Originally drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Stephenson has appeared in 191 career AHL contests since turning pro in 2006-07, collecting five goals, 15 assists and 245 penalty minutes.

"He's a big, strong tough defenseman," Tallon said. "Size and strength was a need we had in Rockford."

Pahlsson has been out since Jan. 31 with a case of mononucleosis and Tallon said that he is still a week or two from returning to play. But this move wasn't about today. It was about next month, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway.

"Pahlsson will come in now and start working into shape," Tallon said. "He'll start skating next week and can return anywhere from one to three weeks from now depending on his conditioning. He's missed a month of games, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He'll be well-rested for the playoff run."

Kontiola, 24, notched five assists in 12 matchups with the Blackhawks last season, in his only NHL action. The Seinajoki, Finland, native has spent this entire campaign in the AHL, leading the Rockford IceHogs with 38 assists and 53 points in 61 games. Wisniewski had recorded two goals and 11 assists in 31 games with the Hawks since returning from an ACL injury.

"We gave up a great defenseman in James Wisniewski," Tallon said. "Sometimes you have to give up an asset to get something back that was really important for your team. He'll love the California lifestyle and get plenty of ice time."

"We addressed a need. We needed a shutdown centerman and a veteran guy who has won a Stanley Cup," Tallon said on Wednesday. "We felt we had to address that so we could go deeper into the rest of the season and the playoffs." -- Blackhawks' GM Dale Tallon


Wisniewski, who grew up in the Blackhawks' organization after being drafted by the club in 2002, was disappointed to leave the Windy City.

"It's heartbreaking, but very few guys in this League play for one team their whole career," he said. "I thank the Chicago organization for sticking with me and for all of the help they've given me to get back to 100 percent."

With the deadline now in the past, Tallon is confident that his team is better now than it was a day ago. The Blackhawks are on target to finish fourth in the Western Conference, which would give them home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"Now we have an asset that can kill penalties, win faceoffs and shut down a team’s top scorer," Tallon said. "Added to the offense that we have, it's a great fit for our team."



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