SUN Hockey Pool

Struggling offence gets Swedish boost

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- On the surface, nothing about Kristian Huselius makes him a Darryl Sutter player.

Huselius has offensive skill but is slightly built, doesn't play strong defence and not known for fearlessness.

But with the Flames in need of offensive production, the two-time 20-goal scorer was acquired from the Florida Panthers yesterday in exchange for defenceman Steve Montador and minor-league forward Dustin Johner.

"It's one of those deals where a skilled guy maybe needs a change of scenery," said Sutter. "He's a young guy in the last year of a contract going to a hockey town, so you'd think it'd be in his best interests to help out a good team."

The newly acquired right winger joined the Flames late last night in Pittsburgh and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Penguins (5 p.m.).

Huselius, selected 47th overall by the Panthers in 1997, appeared to be an important piece of the team's future when he tallied 23 goals and 22 assists in his rookie season, 2001-02.

He followed that campaign with 20 goals and 23 assists.

However, the 27-year-old from Sweden fell quickly out of favour in Florida. With five goals and three assists this season and a $1.216 million US salary, he was placed on waivers.

Sutter said he decided to get Huselius through a trade instead of waivers to make it less of a financial hit. Montador's salary is $450,000 US.

"I'm just glad to come on board and have a fresh start with a new team," Huselius said. "It's a great team, played in the Stanley Cup finals two years ago, so it's really fun. I'm excited."

Where exactly Huselius fits into the mix remains to be seen.

"He's a versatile player, so it's not like you have to slot him somewhere," Sutter said. "He's a skilled guy, so hopefully he'll help us out.

Montador hadn't played in a month, last skating in the Nov. 1 clash with Minnesota. A healthy scratch the last 13 contests due to the team's blueline depth, he had an inkling a move was in the works.

"I had something of an idea this could happen but it's still a bit of a surprise because this is the only team I've known," he stated before saying goodbye to now former teammates in Detroit.

Montador, an undrafted free agent signed in September 2000, played 94 regular-season games for Calgary and had four goals and five assists. His personal highlight was the overtime game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference final against San Jose.

Although the trade to the struggling Panthers means Montador won't likely see the playoffs, it does give him an opportunity to play on a regular basis.

"It's an opportunity I have to show a new coach, a new team and a new GM what I'm about," he said.


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