on February 28, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Smyth to Islanders; Guerin and Bertuzzi move on, too

(AP) – The early buzz on NHL trade deadline day surrounded deals that sent Bill Guerin and Todd Bertuzzi to new locales.

That was before the Edmonton Oilers traded away the face of the franchise.

Ryan Smyth was sent packing Tuesday once it became clear he and the Oilers wouldn’t have time to work out a new contract.

Instead of taking a chance on losing Smyth for nothing, Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe traded the gritty left winger to the New York Islanders for a package of prospects and a draft pick.

“It was probably the most difficult phone call I’ve ever had to make,” Lowe said of breaking the news to Smyth. “In fact, I know it is.

“I used to think that there wasn’t many people that cared more for the game than me, but I know one for sure that he does. He was shocked. I think we’re all a little stunned.”

New York’s big deal trumped those made earlier in the day that sent Guerin from St. Louis to San Jose, Bertuzzi from Florida to Detroit, and Kings captain Mattias Norstrom from Los Angeles to Dallas.

The Islanders, faced with the same dilemma that forced the Oilers’ hand, kept leading scorer Jason Blake and added Smyth to the mix.

True to form, the final dealing day of the season was very busy. The 25 trades made in the final six hours before the deadline matched last year for the most active in NHL history. The 30 clubs moved 44 players, two shy of the mark set in 2003.

Islanders general manager Garth Snow is still a novice after serving as the team’s backup goalie just last season, but this trade could propel New York into the postseason. He mulled offers for Blake, an impending unrestricted free agent this summer, and then pounced when Smyth became available.

“To get a player of Ryan Smyth’s character and leadership is just great,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “He’s a true leader, he’s a gritty playoff performer, and he’s everything we wanted to instill in this organization.”

Blake was happy and relieved to stay.

“I never wanted to go anywhere in the first place,” Blake said. “It’s going to be exciting here. I can’t remember in all my time here when this team made a move like this. I definitely think the Islanders are headed in the right direction.”

The price was steep for the Islanders, especially if the 31-year-old Smyth signs elsewhere after the season. Smyth leaves Edmonton after 11-plus seasons in which he grew into the heart and soul of the Oilers _ and less than a year after he helped the club to a surprising run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

New York sent first-round picks Robert Nilsson (2003) and Ryan O’Marra (2005), along with the Islanders’ first-round choice in this year’s draft to Edmonton for Smyth, who has 31 goals and 53 points in 53 games this season.

“Wow. That’s shocking,” said Guerin, Smyth’s teammate with the Oilers for four seasons. “He’s a guy that I thought would be there forever, and he probably thought that, too. He gave everything he had to the organization, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”

While that one came as a surprise, Guerin’s departure didn’t. The rugged forward’s days in St. Louis were clearly short because of his upcoming unrestricted free agent status. It became clear he wouldn’t be staying once the Blues dealt Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta a few days before the deadline.

“I’m thrilled,” Guerin said. “This is one of those teams that was on my radar. I am very happy to be going there. You have certain expectations and places that you want to go, so it was easy (to agree to the trade). When it was presented to me, it was a no-brainer.”

Two days earlier, the Sharks acquired veteran defenseman Craig Rivet from the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Josh Gorges and their own first-round pick.

The Sharks, who entered the day tied for fifth in the Western Conference after a recent slump, sent left wing Ville Nieminen, college forward Jay Barriball and New Jersey’s first-round pick, which they acquired last year, to the rebuilding Blues.

“Billy has been a true professional on and off the ice this season and we felt it was in the best interest or him and the Blues to trade him to a playoff contender,” Blues president John Davidson said.

Bertuzzi, best known for his blindside hit to the head of former Colorado player Steve Moore that drew the rugged forward a 17-month suspension, was traded by the Panthers after playing only seven games with them in an injury-plagued season.

The Panthers acquired forward Shawn Matthias and up to two conditional draft picks in the deal. If Bertuzzi signs with Detroit after this season, the Red Wings will part with one pick this year and another next year.

Bertuzzi, acquired by Florida from Vancouver for top goalie Roberto Luongo on draft day last year, hasn’t played since he had lower back surgery in November.

“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.

The Buffalo Sabres took a big step toward replenishing their injury-ravaged lineup by making four deadline-day deals. The biggest brought forward Dainius Zubrus to town from Washington.

The Sabres also dealt backup goalie Martin Biron to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second-round pick and then acquired Columbus backup goalie Ty Conklin for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Along with Zubrus, a consistent offensive forward, Buffalo also landed prospect defenseman Timo Helbling. The Sabres dealt rookie forward Jiri Novotny, who’s ready to return from a high ankle sprain, and a first-round pick to the Capitals.

The Sabres then traded a fourth-round draft pick to Nashville for minor league defenseman Mikko Lehtonen.

In other deals:

_ Anaheim traded goalie Michael Wall to Colorado for left winger Brad May; and dealt defenseman Joe Rullier to Tampa Bay for defenseman Doug O’Brien.

_ Boston traded center Brad Boyes to St. Louis for defenseman Dennis Wideman.

_ Chicago sent left winger Karl Stewart and a sixth-round pick in the 2008 draft to Tampa Bay for right wing Nikita Alexeev. Tampa Bay also acquired right winger Jason Ward for a fifth-round pick.

_ New Jersey traded defenseman David Hale and a fifth-round pick to Calgary for a third-round draft selection.

_ Phoenix sent left winger Oleg Saprykin and a seventh-round draft choice to Ottawa for a second-round pick next year. The Coyotes also dealt center Yanic Perreault and a fifth-round pick in next year’s draft to Toronto for defenseman Brendan Bell and a second-round selection next year.

_ San Jose traded right winger Scott Parker to Colorado for a sixth-round pick next year.

_ Washington dealt defenseman Jamie Heward to Los Angeles for a conditional pick in 2008.

Norstrom, the Kings captain since 2002, was sent with right wing Konstantin Pushkarev and two draft picks to the Stars for defenseman Jaroslav Modry and three draft choices.

Norstrom is the team’s career leader in games played among defensemen with 780. He has two goals, seven assists and 40 penalty minutes in 62 games this season.

“Mattias solidifies our defensive group and also adds character and veteran leadership to our locker room,” Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said. “We look for him to make an immediate impact on this hockey club as we push towards the playoffs.”

The New York Rangers, on the outside of the Eastern playoff race, made two deals Tuesday. They sent Aaron Ward to the Boston Bruins for fellow defenseman Paul Mara, and traded newly acquired forward Pascal Dupuis to the Atlanta Thrashers for a third-round draft pick and prospect Alex Bourret.

Ward, a member of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes last season, was in the first year of a two-year deal with New York that pays him $2.75 million in each season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins took steps to win now, adding veteran leadership and muscle to their young forward lineup.

Joining blossoming stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be 40-year-old Gary Roberts and noted fighter Georges Laraque.

To land Roberts, who waived a no-trade clause, Pittsburgh sent defenseman Noah Welch to Florida. Forward prospect Daniel Carcillo and a 2008 third-round pick were shipped to Phoenix for Laraque. The Penguins then dealt Dominic Moore to Minnesota for a third-round pick and acquired defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski from Florida for a fourth-round choice.

“We want to be part of the playoffs,” coach Michel Therrien said, “and right now we’ve put ourselves in a position to be there.”