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Pacific: Sharks add experience for stretch drive

by John Kreiser
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the five Pacific Division rosters pretty much are set for the stretch run.

Here's a look at what each team did, where they are and where they're headed.

San Jose Sharks

Position:
Running away with the division, battling with Detroit for first in West

In: F Travis Moen and D Kent Huskins (from Anaheim)

Out: G Timo Pielmeier, C Nick Bonino, conditional 2011 fourth-round pick to Anaheim

Analysis: The Sharks have been plagued by injuries to their third and fourth lines, so adding Moen gives them some more grit and checking ability. He doesn't score much (4-7-11 in 64 games), but adds the experience of winning a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and figures to play a regular role on one of the bottom two lines. In 344 NHL games, the 26-year-old has 51 points (26 goals, 25 assists) and 473 penalty minutes.

Huskins, who has been out since Dec. 31 with a foot injury and isn't likely to return for another couple weeks, is a depth defenseman. He also earned a ring with the 2007 Cup-winning Ducks.

The deal cost the Sharks two young players who were nowhere near making their team. Bonino, a sixth-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, is having a superb sophomore season at Boston University, while Pielmeier, a goalie taken in the third round in 2007, is playing well for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but the Sharks are awash in goaltending.

Outlook: The Sharks are in a fight with Detroit for first in the West and they're going for it this season, so GM Doug Wilson was more than willing to sacrifice a couple kids who were nowhere near making the parent club for two players he feels can help put his team over the top.

"These two players understand that the team comes first," Wilson said. "They have both won a Stanley Cup and will be great additions to our club, without cannibalizing any of our current player's roles."

Anaheim Ducks

Position: 11th in the West, but two points out of a playoff spot

In: G Timo Pielmeier, C Nick Bonino, conditional 2011 fourth-round pick (from San Jose); D James Wisniewski and C Petri Kontiola (from Chicago); C Erik Christensen (from Atlanta); C Petteri Nokelainen (from Boston)

Out:
F Travis Moen, D Kent Huskins (to San Jose); C Samuel Pahlsson, D Logan Stephenson, 2009 conditional pick (to Chicago); C Eric O'Dell (to Atlanta); D Steve Montador (to Boston); C Brendan Morrison (to Dallas on waivers)

Analysis: The Ducks, who also dealt forward Chris Kunitz to Pittsburgh for puck-moving defenseman Ryan Whitney a few days before the deadline, held on to their two big defensemen, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, but made a number of smaller deals as they try to build around a young nucleus of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan up front.

Outlook:
The Ducks gave themselves some salary-cap flexibility and dealt three players who were headed for free agency, while getting themselves a replacement for nearly everyone they dealt away. Whitney also gives them a replacement for Niedermayer in case he doesn't return next season, and they have high hopes Pielmeier and Bonino -- a center with 15 goals and 42 points in 35 games at Boston College -- will be ready to play in the NHL in the not-too-distant future. GM Bob Murray is confident the Ducks still are capable of making the playoffs, but with the 2007 Stanley Cup now two years in the rear-view mirror, he felt changes had to be made.

"We just couldn't let these unrestricted guys go and not get anything for them. In talking to these guys, it's tough. You talk to Travis, Sami and Husky, they love it here and wanted to stay here, but they all look at you and say, 'I've got to try free agency."
-- Ducks GM Bob Murray

"We just couldn't let these unrestricted guys go and not get anything for them," Murray said. "In talking to these guys, it's tough. You talk to Travis, Sami and Husky, they love it here and wanted to stay here, but they all look at you and say, 'I've got to try free agency.' The contract negotiations were going nowhere. It's just the way the game is. They all want to get to that free agency and I understand that as a former player. They understand that I had to do what I had to do going forward because it would have been totally irresponsible of me to not get the best I could for these unrestricted guys."

Dallas Stars

Position:
9th in the West, but tied with No. 7 Edmonton and No. 8 Nashville with 70 points

In: C Brendan Morrison (from Anaheim on waivers)

Out: No one

Analysis:
The Stars started slow and surged after Christmas, but have struggled in the past few weeks, partly due to a series of injuries. Perhaps the most damaging was the loss of No. 2 center Brad Richards, who broke his wrist nearly a month ago and may not be back before the end of the regular season. The Stars hope Morrison, who was a disappointment for the Ducks after coming off knee surgery, can pick up some of the offensive slack.

Outlook: The Stars have gotten a 30-goal season out of Loui Eriksson, and Morrison may help fill some of the gap left by Richards as they chase one of the final playoff berths in the West.

"Brendan Morrison is a skilled veteran who brings valuable experience and character to our team for this playoff push," Stars Co-GM Les Jackson said. "He is a strong competitor who we are excited to add to our group."

 
Their biggest problem, though, is they rarely have all of the pieces working together at the same time. The penalty killers, who have struggled for much of the season, have been excellent recently, only to see the power play go cold. Goaltender Marty Turco, playing virtually every night because there's no reliable backup, has to be great, not good. The Stars are betting that standing pat will be good enough to get them to the postseason.

Los Angeles Kings

Position:
12th in the West, but just three points out of a playoff spot

In: F Justin Williams (from Carolina)

Out: F Patrick O'Sullivan, 2009 second-round pick (to Edmonton)

Analysis: O'Sullivan, who signed a three-year contract just days before the season started, hadn't been scoring the way he did last season. Williams is a couple of weeks away from being able to play due to a broken hand, but has two 30-goal seasons and was a member of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup-winning team -- something that also appealed to management as the Kings continue to rebuild.

Outlook: The Kings, last in the West in 2007-08, are ahead of schedule in terms of being competitive. GM Dean Lombardi and coach Terry Murray, both of whom knew Williams from their days in Philadelphia, feel he can be a key addition to a very young team that's on the way up by bringing offensive ability and leadership skills.

Lombardi said he wasn't concerned about giving up a player who was in the lineup in O'Sullivan in exchange for one who won't be able to play for another couple of weeks.

"We felt that the way Oscar Moller has been playing, we can fill that hole -- and then Justin will be back in a couple of weeks," he said. "We felt we could hold that for now, and then we'd be getting a very good player."

Phoenix Coyotes

Position:
14th in West, nine points out of a playoff spot

In: D Dmitri Kalinin, F Nigel Dawes, F Petr Prucha (from New York Rangers); F Scottie Upshall, 2011 second-round pick (from Philadelphia); F Matthew Lombardi, F Brandon Prust, conditional first-round draft pick (from Calgary); 2010 fourth-round pick (from Buffalo)
 
Out: D Derek Morris (to Rangers); F Daniel Carcillo (to Philadelphia); C Olli Jokinen, 2009 third-round draft pick (to Calgary); G Mikael Tellqvist (to Buffalo)

Analysis: The Coyotes' post-All-Star fade showed GM Don Maloney he had more work to do to make this a playoff team. He got an excellent haul for Morris, who's going to be a free agent and wasn't doing much offensively. Upshall has speed and grit and figures to get top-six forward time. Maloney landed Jokinen last June to be a No. 1 center; when that didn't work out, he sent him to Calgary for a package that includes a first-round pick in either 2009 or 2010 and two young players. Tellqvist's departure opens up jobs for young goaltenders throughout the organization (Josh Tordjman made his NHL debut Sunday).

Outlook: Maloney all but threw in the towel for this season, but the Coyotes continue to add young talent to an already impressive nucleus.

"We are extremely pleased with the players we were able to add," Maloney said. "Prucha, a former 30-goal scorer, and Dawes, an emerging young offensive talent, are two young forwards who compete hard every night.

"… Lombardi's speed and scoring touch along with Prust's physical style should fit our team very well."

Maloney has stockpiled a lot of young talent and owns what should be another high first-round pick in June. Now it's up to he and coach Wayne Gretzky to start turning that young talent into results.
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