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Panthers acquire Hudler, Purcell, Kindl in trades

Florida deals draft picks for forwards, defenseman

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The Florida Panthers, attempting to stay in first place in the Atlantic Division, acquired defenseman Jakub Kindl and forwards Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell on Saturday while their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was in progress.

"We wanted a good puck-moving defenseman. We also wanted to give ourselves three really good scoring lines," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "It gives us depth at all positions. It gives the coaches different looks on the power play. It completes our team a little bit more.

"I'm pretty satisfied with our depth right now."

The first move was acquiring Hudler in a trade with the Calgary Flames, who received a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Hudler, 32, has 35 points (10 goals) and a minus-1 rating in 53 games this season after he established career highs of 31 goals, 45 assists and plus-17 last season.

"At parts of the season, I was playing better than last season, but it wasn't there," said Hudler, the 2015 Lady Byng Trophy winner. "I'm ready to turn the page and start another story."

He was expecting to be traded and is pleased where he's headed.

"I'm really excited, really happy going to a young team, especially the way they play," he said.

Hudler won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.

"He's a skilled player, a talented player," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "He can score some goals. Last year, he had an outstanding year. This year hasn't been as good for him. "

Florida then traded a third-round pick in the 2016 draft to the Edmonton Oilers for Purcell. He had 11 goals and 32 points in 61 games for Edmonton this season.

Purcell, 30, has 98 goals and 196 assists in 544 NHL games. He also had seven goals and 18 points in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011 and 2014.

He's excited to be going from the Oilers, who are 30th in the NHL standings, to a team that appears headed for the postseason.

"That's what everyone wants to do. I feel pretty lucky," he said. "I've heard a lot of good things (about Florida). They're a fun team to watch. I've heard a lot of good things about the coach too.

"Anytime you go to a good team, you don't want to step on anyone's toes and you want to slide in and be a good piece of the puzzle."

Finally, the Panthers got Kindl from the Red Wings for a sixth-round pick at the 2017 draft.

Kindl had six points (two goals) and a plus-3 rating in 25 games for Detroit this season. The 29-year-old has 16 goals, 52 points and a plus-15 rating in 273 NHL games, all with the Red Wings.

None of Florida's new players will be play against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, but Tallon expects them all to be available Tuesday at the Winnipeg Jets.

Kindl and Hudler each is from the Czech Republic, as is Panthers' leading scorer Jaromir Jagr.

Hudler is looking forward to joining the 44-year-old Jagr.

"He's a living legend," he said. "I've played with him a couple of times on the national team."

Jagr said he has not played on the national team with Kindl.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens," Jagr said. "We've got some guys coming in that can help."

That was the prevalent feeling in the dressing room after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets.

"Getting those three guys are really going to add to our lineup," center Nick Bjugstad said. "We've been doing pretty well even with a lot of injuries, but having these three guys come in is going to enhance our roster. We all know who they are, definitely some good players."

With the Panthers (35-18-8) looking to make the playoffs for the fourth time in 20 seasons, Gallant was not surprised by the moves.

"We'd be pretty disappointed if we weren't active at the deadline with the team we've got," he said. "Saying that, we've got a lot of good players here and they're going to help us.

"It's all about chemistry and good leadership. These guys are going to come in here and fit in good."

Tallon credited the Panthers owners for allowing him to be active leading up to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

"Ownership has given me carte blanche to go out and get it done" he said.

Word of the trades came in waves around the time the Panthers game started at 3 p.m. ET. Tallon said a lot of behind-the-scenes work went into the moves.

"This has been going on for days," he said. "It really got hot this morning. It was fun. That's the nature of the beast. You work tirelessly for weeks to have it all done in an hour."

Although the Panthers already have been busy, Tallon said they might not be done before the deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

"Who said we're done?" he said. "We want to win and we want to put the best team out there. We'll see what happens Monday."

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