Hornby: Breaking NHL trades

Lance Hornby, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:14 PM ET

The Maple Leafs couldn’t get a first-round pick for Nik Antropov, but general manager Brian Burke received two choices he hopes will facilitate the rebuilding of the team.

The 6-foot-6 Antropov is taking his act to Broadway after the Leafs sent him to the New York Rangers for a second rounder and a conditional pick. Antropov, approaching unrestricted free agency, was held out of Tuesday’s game, but the deal wasn’t announced until minutes remained before the NHL trade deadline.

Toronto began the day with a first pick in the top 10 at the June draft and no second rounder, but addressed that and will likely do well with the conditional pick if the nip-and-tuck Rangers get in the playoffs.

Antropov was the Leafs’ second leading scorer and give the Rangers some obvious size advantages.

Also, the Leafs couldn’t afford Dominic Moore, but the Buffalo Sabres felt they couldn’t do without the centre’s two-way play and prowess in the faceoff circle.

Moore, who ranks 13th in NHL faceoff percentage with 54.8 per cent success, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, a rare deal between the geographical rivals, for a second round pick.

The Sabres needed insurance up front to revive playoff hopes, sitting just six ahead of the 11th-place Leafs in the Eastern Conference before last night.

Moore’s agent, Larry Kelly, virtually guaranteed his client wouldn’t stay in his hometown when he wouldn’t go much lower than $2 million a season on a multi-year deal. Toronto general manager Brian Burke was very clear that Kelly’s request, which started out close to $2.5 million US a year didn’t get close enough to a reported three-year, $5 million offer by the Leafs.

Moore hopes he can sign with his new team or get the kind of money he thought he was worth with a strong playoff push prior to entering free agency on July 1. A waiver pick-up of the Leafs 14 months and two general managers ago (John Ferguson), Moore had a career year in Toronto with 41 points.

Reports indicated the Rangers had also received defenceman Derek Morris from Phoenix for forwards Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha and defenceman Dmitri Kalinin.

Flyers add muscle

There will be no need to sell Daniel Carcillo to fans of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Carcillo led the NHL with 324 penalty minutes last season and is headed to Philly in a late-day trade with Phoenix. The 5-foot-11, 203-pounder from King City, Ont., can also pop the odd goal with 10 points this season.

But the Flyers had to give up a character player in forward Scottie Upshall and a second round pick to bring in Carcillo for some muscle. However, the Flyers are often caught over-loading on aggressive players at a time of year when fighting is frowned upon.”

Pens get help for Sidney

The Pittsburgh Penguins landed some badly-needed help for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin today by trading for veteran Bill Guerin.

In search of his first Cup since 1995 with the Devils and now on his eighth team overall, Guerin went from the last-place New York Islanders to a Pittsburgh club clinging to a post-season berth.

The move cost Pittsburgh a conditional middle-round pick that could be as high as third if the Pens advance a few rounds. Pittsburgh gets an established veteran, who has 50 playoff points in 105 games, and managed 36 this year on the limping Isles. Guerin is long in the tooth at 38, but was highly sought by clubs at this year’s deadline.

The Pens’ failure thus far to repeat their 2007-08 regular season success was being blamed on letting character warhorse players such as Gary Roberts get away.

Toskala done, Leafs get Gerber

Goalie Vesa Toskala is done for the year, facing hip/groin surgery next week and necessitating a waiver claim today on Ottawa’s Martin Gerber.

Criticized by general manager Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson for poor practice habits at mid-season, Toskala had played very well of late, but after examination, it was thought best to shut him down after Tuesday night’s 49-save effort in a 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey. He’s facing a four-month recovery. “We’re all on the same page now,” Toskala told reporters today when the Leafs made the double announcement of the surgery and the acquisition of Gerber, The latter is short-term insurance for Toskala’s recovery and for rookie Justin Pogge, in case he experiences more growing pains next season.

Toronto also grabbed defenceman Eric Reitz from the New York Rangers off the waiver list.

Gerber has not been able to hold No. 1 status as he was usurped by Cam Ward during the Carolina Hurricanes’ Cup push in 2006 and he had two or three cracks at being top dog with the Sens. But many believe the quiet 34-yearold is best situated as a back-up.

He was 4-9-1 in Ottawa this past season with a 2.86 goals-against average, before the club went in another direction in search of a No. 1. The 34-year-old was born in Switzerland and played there in the lockout year.

Reitz is a 27-year-old fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2000. The Detroit native played 42 games with a goal and assist. He is 6-foot-1, 215 pounds.

Stars claim ex-Canucks star

The Dallas Stars were not going to get too adventurous at the deadline, with so much money already laid down during the season’s Sean Avery saga.

But they made a bid to sustain playoff hopes today by claiming Brendan Morrison on waivers from Anaheim.

Morrison, who had 22 points in 61 games in his first year in Anaheim, is 33 and had spent eight previous years in the Canucks organization. The centre should give a push to the Stars’ sub-par offence.

Recchi takes playoff experience to Boston

Winger Mark Recchi, who has amassed 47 goals and 70 assists in 140 playoff games, is bringing that invaluable experience to the Boston Bruins as they seek their first Cup since 1972.

The 41-year-old went from the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were supposed to have a much better season, with a second round pick in 2010, for defenceman Matt Lashoff and Latvian forward Martins Karsums, who played six games for the B’s this season.

“There is nothing better than playoff hockey,” Recchi told TSN, recounting the two Cups he won in Pittsburgh and Carolina. “I’m excited. I didn’t know what would happen (today). “Obviously Boston is a great team. with very young players. I’ll fill any role they want me to.”

Ducks give Montador shot at Cup

The Anaheim Ducks gave defenceman Steve Montador another shot at a Stanley Cup today when they sent him to the Boston Bruins for centre Petteri Nokelainen.

Montador has not been to the playoffs since the Calgary Flames went to the final in 2004. He was a plus-15 on the defensively challenged Ducks.

But Nokelainen, a first rounder of the New York Islanders in 2004, might still be able to squeeze in with the Ducks, who were on the cusp of post-season play this week. He played just over 30 games with Boston this season.

Flames make bold move for Jokinen

Olli Jokinen’s long search for the perfect fit has landed him with the Calgary Flames.

Calgary made one of the boldest moves of the NHL trade deadline this afternoon when it out-bid several teams to wrestle Jokinen from the Phoenix Coyotes. In criss-crossing the continent in trades from Los Angeles, to Long Island to sunny Florida to the Phoenix desert, Jokinen always excelled individually, but was often an isolated talent.

In Calgary, with a team that has Stanley Cup ambitions, a rock solid captain in Jarome Iginla and a fine goalie in Miikka Kiprusoff, Jokinen can concentrate on playing centre and recording his sixth 25-goal campaign, with likely more to come in the playoffs.

Phoenix picks up a first round pick this year to go with its own guaranteed high pick, centre Matthew Lombardi and little-used forward Brandon Prust.

Having already picked up Jordan Leopold on defence earlier in the day, general manager Darryl Sutter is primed for a long playoff run.

Tellqvist shuffles off to Buffalo

Ex-Maple Leaf goaltender Mikael Tellqvist is back in the Northeast Division, down the road with the Buffalo Sabres.

The Swede was sent east from the Phoenix Coyotes for a fourth-round draft pick to give the Sabres a badly needed back-up for Ryan Miller. The latter’s ankle injury damaged the Sabres’ playoff hopes and they are worried that Patrick Lalime and a host of back-ups in the system can’t step in if needed in April.

Tellqvist was with Toronto from 2002-07 at various times and swapped to the Coyotes for Tyson Nash and a fourth rounder.

Leopold back to Calgary

Jordan Leopold is headed back to Calgary for another run at the Stanley Cup.

The big defenceman, whose breakout year was part of the Flames’ charge to the 2004 Cup final, came back to Alberta this morning in a deal with the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick that was Montreal’s, plus defence prospect Ryan Wilson and spare defenceman Lawrence Nycholat, who was claimed on waivers from Vancouver a day earlier.

Leopold, 29, was originally given up in 2006 in a deal with draft picks for the Avs’ Alex Tanguay, but the Flames have yet to re-create the chemistry that took them so far in ‘04. But new coach Mike Keenan has them atop the Northwest Division and Leopold will bolster the blueline.

“Mike is a black and white guy,” Leopold told TSN of preparing himself for the demanding Keenan. “I’ve had good experiences in Calgary.”

Leopold’s wife just delivered a baby a couple of weeks ago, but the overall Avalanche stint wasn’t beneficial for him and the team are likely to miss the playoffs.

Burrows, Connolly stay put

The Sedin Twins’ favourite winger will be staying put in Vancouver, while centre Tim Connolly will be one Buffalo Sabre not to slip through the team’s fingers.

Burrows, one of the rare left wingers to have the chemistry that Daniel and Henrik Sedin require to keep atop the Canucks’ scoring parade, signed a four-year $8 million US extension this morning. Connolly came to the rink with trepidation of a trade this morning, but signed a two-year deal worth $9 million US.

The undrafted Burrows, a ball hockey player at one point, bounced around the minors until hooking up with the Canucks farm team after the 2004-05 lockout. He was placed on the Twins’ line this season and the trio took off, hooking up for two goals, including the insurance marker, on Tuesday night when the Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2.

Connolly, missed the 2003-04 season with a concussion and repeated problems with that type of injury hasn’t allowed him to play a full season since. He will play in his 30th game of this season tonight, but has 267 points in 467 career games.

Buffalo has been under extreme criticism in past years for not paying to hang on to its assets, though unlike Jay McKee and Brian Campbell, first rounder Connolly wasn’t drafted by the Sabres.

Sens acquire Leclaire, sign Kuba

Pascal Leclaire, bounced from the Columbus Blue Jackets’ crease by star rookie Steve Mason, has been dropped into the pressure cooker of the Ottawa Senators’ net in a deal for centre Antoine Vermette and a second-round pick.

Leclaire, who is recovering from ankle surgery, will try and succeed where stoppers such as Patrick Lalime, Ray Emery, Martin Gerber, Alex Auld and rookie Brian Elliott have struggled. The Sens went through three goalies this season and still are going to miss the playoffs. But Leclaire’s nine shutouts last season obviously caught the eye of general manager Bryan Murray, rather than some inflated goals-against and save percentage numbers from earlier this year before he was taken out of the lineup.

He is only 27 years old.

“It’s a great opportunity to come back close to home,” said the Quebec native told TSN. “I knew it might happen. the rumours with me and Antoine were ruinning all around here. It’s cool for me and my family.”

Vermette was a key member of past Ottawa teams that excelled in two-way hockey, but he is well off his 20-goal pace of previous years and was a minus 11 before Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to Calgary. He will add to the Blue Jackets’ determined bid to land its first playoff spot. The Jackets might go back in the market for a No. 2 goalie before the day is done.

Leclaire, who helped Canada to a gold medal at the world championships, is familiar with Sens’ Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley from that tournament.

“I don’t see myself coming in as a saviour,” Leclaire said, noting the Sens do have a team that most believe is capable of better things.

But Leclaire doesn’t expect he’ll play for Ottawa until early April if at all.

Vermette has been in the rumour mill a long time. “There is good excitement with the (Blue Jackets), a good team and I’ll play a lot of minutes,” Vermette told TSN. lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca

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