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Sabres trade D Campbell to San Jose for RW Bernier and 1st-round pick

NHL.com @NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Sabres All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell was traded Tuesday to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for right wing Steve Bernier and a first-round pick in this year's draft.

The Sabres also gave up a seventh-round draft pick in a deal reached hours before the NHL's trade deadline.

In Campbell, the Sharks get a solid two-way player, who has been among the league's top puck-moving defenseman over the past three seasons. The move bolsters their backline as they attempt to make a late-season playoff push. Currently they are fifth in a tightly contested Western Conference race in which five points separate San Jose and ninth-place Phoenix.

Bernier has 13 goals and 10 assists in 59 games.

The Sabres made the trade after contract talks with Campbell broke off this past weekend. Campbell, eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, rejected the team's offer of a three-year deal worth more than $17 million.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said it became clear he would be forced to trade Campbell, or potentially lose him for nothing in free agency.

"In Brian's case, let's be honest, we'd all have preferred to have him here and keep him here," Regier said. "But this is part of the new CBA that we're going to have to deal with."

Buffalo loses its top defenseman but adds depth to a banged-up core of forwards, which is currently minus Gotten Hoechst (groin), Maxim Afinogenov (groin) and Drew Stafford (ankle). The Sabres are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Monday, which dropped them into a tie with the Flyers for eighth place in the East. Philadelphia, however, holds the edge on the conference's eighth and final playoff berth because it has one more win than Buffalo.

Campbell leads Sabres defensemen and is tied for seventh among NHL defensemen with 43 points (five goals and 38 assists) in 62 games, and he was leading the team in logging 25:06 of ice-time a game.

Buffalo's sixth-round pick in the 1997 draft, Campbell was in his eighth season with the Sabres.

Campbell was emotional after learning of the trade, insisting he wanted to remain in Buffalo but was looking for a longer-term deal with the team.

"Frustration, a little bit," Campbell said. "I've got a lot of people and friends here. ... I would've liked to have gotten it done, but it didn't happen."

Campbell proved to be a late bloomer, managing 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists) in his first five seasons.

Campbell's breakout year came in 2005-06, when he produced 44 points, including a career-high 12 goals, and followed that up with a career-best 48-point season (six goals, 42 assists) last year.

Bernier was the Sharks second of two first-round picks in the 2003 draft. He's listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds. He has 81 points (42 goals and 39 assists) in 160 career games.

"He's a young player that will be able to help us down the road, and the first pick will certainly be something we can convert into a player years down the road as well," Regier said.

Campbell is the latest core player to depart Buffalo. The team lost both co-captains, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, to free agency in July.

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