|By The Associated Press
|The Wings hope that Bertuzzi, who hasn't played since back surgery last fall, can provide a lift come playoff time. (GettyImages) |
DETROIT -- The Red Wings wanted to add toughness and depth up front, and they seemed to accomplish both goals just before the NHL's trading deadline.
Detroit acquired Todd Bertuzzi
from Florida on Tuesday, a day after picking up forward Kyle Calder in a three-team trade.
"We've added some size, grit, skill and depth," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "We're a much better team than we were 48 hours ago."
Bertuzzi hasn't played since he had lower back surgery in November -- after being sidelined for more than two weeks by a herniated disc. He has a goal and six assists in seven games after being acquired last summer in a trade that sent top goalie Roberto Luongo to Vancouver.
The Red Wings hope to have Bertuzzi in the lineup by the end of March.
"I've been feeling a lot better," Bertuzzi said. "I've been doing some work off the ice and I've been skating the past two weeks."
The Panthers acquired forward Shawn Matthias and up to two conditional draft picks in the deal. Detroit will give up a first-, second-, or third-round pick this year depending on how the team and the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Bertuzzi fare in the playoffs.
"Bertuzzi is a huge, talented man that adds the dimensions of size and skill that we need on one of our top two lines," Detroit coach Mike Babcock told The Associated Press.
If Bertuzzi signs with Detroit after becoming a free agent after the season, Babcock said the team will send a conditional pick to Florida.
The Red Wings gave up one of their forwards, Jason Williams, to Chicago to acquire Calder and sent a prospect to Florida in the Bertuzzi deal.
Matthias has played in the Ontario Hockey League for the Belleville Bulls the past three seasons. He has 33 goals and 28 assists in 57 games this season.
"Shawn is a very skilled young player who was one of the top-rated players in Detroit's system," Panthers general manager and coach Jacques Martin said in a statement. "He is another high-character player who possesses great speed with a scoring touch.
"We also were able to gain draft picks. Additionally, this move also gives us flexibility in being active during the offseason when we look at acquiring free agents throughout the summer."
Meanwhile, Detroit is focused only on setting up its team to have success when the playoffs begin in April after enduring early exits in the postseason after winning the Stanley Cup in 2002.
The Wings are among the NHL's top teams this season, but they knew a tougher presence from their forwards would be needed in the playoffs.
"Our focus all along was to be a harder team to play against, and both Bertuzzi and Calder will help us do that," Babcock said. "There are no guarantees, but the front office led by Kenny Holland and Jim Nill has given us a better opportunity to be successful."