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Wings add depth on blueline, deal for LA's Stuart

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Ken Holland said Stuart (6) was Calgary's best defenseman against the Wings in last year's first-round playoff series. Here Stuart knocks Pavel Datsyuk off his skates.
DETROIT -- At Tuesday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Red Wings added depth to their blue line, acquired veteran defenseman Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings.

“Last year in the Calgary series, we thought he was one of their better defensemen against us in the first round,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He plays abrasive. At playoff time he gives us depth on defense.”

In last spring’s playoff series against Calgary – won by the Red Wings in six games – Stuart played in all six games with the Flames, tallying one assist.

"He can play on the second power play, he can kill penalties," Holland said. "You can never have enough defensemen as we saw last year in our playoff run.”

In return for the eight-year veteran, the Kings receive the Red Wings' second round draft pick in 2008, and fourth round selection in 2009.
"He’s gritty and has some size and he’ll give us a different dimension.” - Red Wings general manager Ken Holland

Stuart's acquisition comes at a time when the Red Wings need some help on the blue line with four defensemen currently on the injury list -- captain Nicklas Lidstrom (knee), Brian Rafalski (groin), Niklas Kronwall (clavicle) and Chris Chelios (leg).

In 63 games with the Kings, Stuart, from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, had five goals and 16 assists. In his last game against the Red Wings, Stuart tied a career-high by collecting three points in LA's 5-3 comeback victory on Feb. 7 at Joe Louis Arena.

Last summer, Stuart signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles. But before doing so, his agent had some conversations with Holland about potentially coming to Detroit.

“I talked to his agent a lot this summer when he was a free agent,” Holland said. “In the end, he’s married to a girl from California and he ended up signing a one-year deal with LA. So he’s been someone that we’ve liked.”

Detroit becomes Stuart's fifth NHL franchise. The first-round pick (third overall) of the San Jose Sharks in 1998, Stuart has also played for Boston.

His best statistical season occurred in 2005-06, while splitting time between San Jose and Boston. That season, Stuart had 12 goals and 31 assists.

Stuart, 28, was part of the blockbuster deal that sent Joe Thornton to San Jose in Nov. 2005.

“He’s going to play physical,” Holland said. “He’s got good size to him. He’s going to move the puck up. We have seven established defensemen and we add a veteran defenseman.

“We feel good about (Derek) Meech, and (Kyle) Quincey and (Jonathan) Ericsson. But playoffs are still about winning 2-1, 3-2 and 1-0 as we saw last year in the playoffs. We’re not looking at (Stuart) to get points. We see him chipping in with a little offense. He’s gritty and has some size and he’ll give us a different dimension.”

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