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Penguins get Hossa from Thrashers and Gill from Maple Leafs

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Pittsburgh Penguins, desperate to add another scorer to Sidney Crosby's line, acquired forward Marian Hossa from Atlanta in a trade Tuesday that sent forwards Colby Armstrong and Eric Christensen to the Thrashers.

With Toronto's Mats Sundin off the market after refusing to waive his no-trade clause, Hossa was the biggest name available at the trade deadline. Hossa is a five-time All-Star right wing who has 26 goals and 30 assists in 60 games this season after finishing tied for sixth in the NHL with 100 points last season.

The Penguins paid a big price to get a player who will become a free agent on July 1, dealing two of their top forwards, plus 2007 first-round draft pick Angelo Esposito and a future first-round draft pick. Pittsburgh also gets forward Pascal Dupuis, a right wing who has 10 goals and five assists in 62 games.

In a separate trade, the Penguins acquired defenseman Hal Gill from Toronto for second- and fifth-round draft picks. The 32-year-old Gill provides another physical presence to go with enforcer Georges Laraque, but is not an exceptional skater or scorer and has only two goals in 63 games.

The 29-year-old Hossa is expected to go onto Crosby's line once the 2007 NHL scoring champion and MVP returns from a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him since Jan. 18. Crosby is not on the Penguins' three-game road trip that began Tuesday at the Islanders and probably won't return until next week at the earliest.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero downplayed speculation in recent days that he would target a star such as Hossa, who could very well be a rent-a-player. The Penguins already gave Crosby a contract worth $8.7 million a season last year and are looking at a similar deal for star scorer Evgeni Malkin this year, and would have trouble fitting a similar deal for Hossa under the salary cap.

Hossa is making $6 million this season in a contract that expires after this season.

Compounding the Penguins' need for another forward, Gary Roberts - last year's major trading deadline day pickup by Shero - has a high ankle sprain to go with his broken right leg and may not play again this season. Roberts has been out since Dec. 29 and is not yet ready to resume skating.

Still, the Penguins - in the running for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference titles - made a bold move to win the Stanley Cup only two years after they finished a conference-worst 22-46-14.

"Pittsburgh kind of snuck in the back door there. I'm not sure anyone even thought they were an option," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "All along we kept hearing it was between Montreal and Ottawa. That was a surprising one to me. They did have some assets to give up. It was a very bold move by Ray Shero."

Crosby, Malkin and Hossa give the Penguins three of the league's premier scorers. Malkin went into Tuesday night's games tied with Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the scoring lead with 82 points.

But the trade deprives Pittsburgh of two of the younger players it was building around in the 25-year-old-Armstrong and the 24-year-old Christensen.

Christensen has nine goals and 11 assists in 49 games and is 5-for-8 on shootout attempts. The 25-year-old Armstrong, Crosby's road roommate and one of the Penguins' most popular players, has played on Crosby's line during stretches this season and has nine goals and 15 assists in 54 games.

The 19-year-old Esposito was originally expected to be one of the top five picks in last year's draft, only to unexpectedly slide to Pittsburgh with the No. 20 pick. He has 26 goals and 29 assists in 48 games during his third season with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior League.

Esposito looked to be the latest in a growing line of Pittsburgh's first-round prizes that already includes Crosby, Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the No. 1 pick in 2003.

And while the Penguins probably don't need Hossa to get them into the playoffs, they must be wondering what he will do once he gets there. He was limited to a single assist during Atlanta's four-game sweep by the New York Rangers last season and has 35 points in 55 career playoff games - well off his nearly point-per-game career pace.

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AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this story.

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