Ducks get defenseman James Wisniewski in one of four deadline deals

Ducks get defenseman James Wisniewski in one of four deadline deals
The Ducks made four trades Monday, including the acquisition of defenseman James Wisniewski from the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

General Manager Bob Murray completed a flurry of four NHL trade-deadline deals Monday to upgrade the Ducks' blue line.

The major "get" was defenseman James Wisniewski, 31, a former Duck (2008-10) who is expected to provide power-play points and playoff physicality. Wisniewski could be paired with Cam Fowler, after his stay-at-home partner, Ben Lovejoy, 31, was dealt to Pittsburgh for 23-year-old defenseman Simon Despres.


To acquire Wisniewski, the Ducks parted with minor league center William Karlsson, a 2015 second-round pick, and unproductive forward Rene Bourque, who was acquired from Montreal earlier this season and cleared waivers Monday morning. As part of the trade the Ducks also received a 2015 third-round pick from Columbus that originally belonged to Detroit.

The Pacific Division leaders also acquired Toronto defenseman Korbinian Holzer for defenseman Eric Brewer and a fifth-round selection in the 2016 draft, and sent minor league forward Mat Clark to Colorado for 22-year-old prospect Michael Sgarbossa, a center.

"We're capable now of competing against most of the teams in our Western Conference," said Murray, who thought the late-season change to team chemistry was worth the risk.

"It was more important to address the ability to play different games against different teams. We felt that was becoming a problem throughout the season. There's not that many players coming, and 'Wiz' has been here before, so that's a plus."

The Ducks staggered through a 6-7-1 rut from Jan. 29-Feb. 25. Their power play ranks in the bottom third of the NHL and is missing injured top-scoring defenseman Sami Vatanen for perhaps another month.

"Our power play has struggled mightily for two years now. Wiz is not afraid to shoot the puck," Murray said. "We felt that was a move that had to be made."

Wisniewski's salary-cap hit will be $5.5 million annually through 2017-18. In Columbus, he had eight goals and 29 points in 56 games this season. He suffered a bone bruise when struck by a puck recently, but is expected to play again within a week.

"It's a dream come true, to be able to go to a legit [Stanley] Cup-contending team, [where] anything else is less than acceptable," Wisniewski said. "To go to a familiar place, the success they've had, and be able to contribute . . . I'm ready for a very long playoff haul."

The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Despres was plus-nine with 64 penalty minutes in 59 games for Pittsburgh, contributing two goals and 17 points.

"Big, strong, young hockey player [who's] only going to get better," Murray said.

Lovejoy was emotional before leaving the Ducks, saying he didn't realize he'd been traded until he returned to the locker room after practice and saw 15 text messages on his phone welcoming him back to Pittsburgh, where he began his NHL career in 2008.

"I thought I was safe," he said. "And then I wasn't."

Lovejoy said he'll look fondly upon his time with the Ducks, who acquired him from the Penguins in February 2013.

"I've loved it," he said. "This place has been amazing for me both personally and professionally. I was given an opportunity here that I am so grateful for. I've always thought I could do it, but I didn't know. I forever will be grateful to Anaheim for that. If I'm leaving here, I'm excited to go back there."

Holzer, 27, told Canadian TV network TSN that it was his girlfriend who informed him he'd been traded. "I'm a little bit out of words," said Holzer, who had six points and 25 penalty minutes in 34 games with Toronto.

"It made our team better," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said of the deals. "I guess the proof will be in the pudding when we see how we react to it all, but we're excited about what happened."



When: 6 PST.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.

Etc.: Ducks forward Tim Jackman was sent home to Anaheim after sustaining an unspecified lower-body injury Sunday in Dallas. He'll be evaluated Tuesday.

Twitter: @latimespugmire

Times columnist Helene Elliott contributed to this report from Glendale, Ariz.