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Thrashers trade D Vishnevski to Nashville for C Belanger @NHLdotcom

ATLANTA (AP) -In a deal between first-place teams, the Atlanta Thrashers traded defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski to the Nashville Predators for center Eric Belanger on Saturday.

Belanger was dealt by the Central Division-leading Predators just one day after being acquired from Carolina for center Josef Vasicek.

The Thrashers, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, also claimed Ottawa right wing Denis Hamel off waivers Saturday.

In dealing for Belanger, the Thrashers got needed depth up the middle and a center who won more than 53 percent of his faceoffs with the Hurricanes. The 29-year-old Belanger had eight goals and 12 assists in 56 games.

Last season, Belanger set career highs with 17 goals and 37 points for the Los Angeles Kings.

The 26-year-old Vishnevski was in his first season with the Thrashers after being acquired from Anaheim. He had three goals, nine assists and 31 penalty minutes in 52 games, but the Thrashers felt they could trade a defenseman with seven regulars at the position.

Hamel, 29, had four goals, three assists in 43 games for the Senators.

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