FRISCO, Tex. -- Dallas Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today that the National Hockey League club has acquired the rights to defenseman Shawn Belle from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Jason Bacashihua.
Belle, 19, was St. Louis' first round selection (30th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 55 games for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League last season, scoring nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points with 68 penalty minutes and a +5 rating. Belle has appeared in 157 games with Tri-City over the last three seasons, scoring 17 goals and 51 assists for 68 points with 196 penalty minutes. He won the Bobby Orr Fastest Skater Award at the 2003 CHL Top Prospects Skills Competition prior to the Draft last year.
The 6-2, 225-pound Belle has played for Team Canada in each of the past three years at different levels - winning the silver medal this past Spring at the 2004 World Junior Championships, collecting two gold medals with Canada's Under-18 squad in 2002-03 (one at the 2003 IIHF World Under-18 Championships in Russia and a second at the 2002 Eight Nations Cup in Slovakia where he was named top defenseman), and winning a silver medal with Team Pacific at the 2002 World Under-17 Challenge. For the second consecutive year, he has been invited to Canada's National Junior Team Development Camp this August in Calgary along with the Stars' 2003 third round pick, right wing B.J. Crombeen.
"Shawn Belle is a good two-way defenseman who is an excellent skater with very good size," Armstrong said. "He has been able to represent his country on several different occasions and has shined every time.
"Jason Bacashihua has a bright future ahead of him and we wish him the best. We had strength at the goaltender position with three top prospects in Jason, Dan Ellis and Mike Smith and we utilized that strength to add youthful depth among our defensive corps. Belle, Trevor Daley, John Erskine and Matt Nickerson give us a good base of young talent to build upon."
Bacashihua, 21, was the Stars' first round selection (26th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He appeared in 39 games with Utah (AHL) last season, earning a 13-19-5 record with a 2.66 goals against-average and a .916 save percentage.
The Stars will participate in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft this weekend in Raleigh, NC, with the first round on Saturday being televised on ESPN2 (11 AM, CST). Dallas owns the 20th overall pick in the first round, as well as three of the first 56 selections (Stars own overall picks 34 and 56 in round two).