Depth has been a major reason the Ducks have the most points in the NHL, but as the playoffs near the emphasis has shifted to a tighter, tougher, more talented roster.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray thinned the forward ranks Tuesday by trading Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals for a fourth-round pick, and sent that pick to Dallas for defenseman Stephane Robidas. Murray also resolved the goalie backlog by dealing Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers for a fifth-round draft pick this year and a third-round pick in 2015.
"Depth is great, but it was getting in the way," Murray said. "That had to be cleaned up for the sake of the hockey team.
"Too many people around, too much uncertainty, is not a good thing. I felt it had to be done."
There might be one more move to make before Wednesday's trade deadline (noon PST).
With players such as Vancouver center Ryan Kesler, Buffalo left wing Matt Moulson and Buffalo defenseman Christian Ehrhoff believed to be among their focus, the Ducks (43-14-5) are now $2 million under the NHL salary cap of $64.3 million and could afford to add any of those players, based on their pro-rated salaries.
An unrestricted free agent after the season, Robidas, 37, is close to full recovery from a broken leg that has kept him out of action since late November and said he should be playing within two weeks.
Murray and Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau praised the veteran defenseman, who gives the team a right-handed shooter from the blue line. Six of the Ducks' other defensemen shoot left.
"Right-hand shot, shut-down-type defenseman who plays hard … that was one of our needs," Murray said. "I've always liked how hard he competes."
Robidas proved that by battling Ducks star forward Corey Perry during the Stars' 2008 playoff series victory.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes, wherever they want to put me," Robidas told reporters in a conference call. "I want to help this team win. I'm not a savior."
Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric was a teammate of the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Robidas in Dallas before joining the Ducks last year.
"Warrior, an in-your-face type guy on the ice, and any team that has him will be better," Fistric said. "His leadership is second to none. Very hard working, skill to go with it, tenacious, little fire rocket kind of guy. Huge competitor, never backs down."
In his second stint with the Ducks, Penner was a healthy scratch six times as Boudreau labored to find playing time for his 14 forwards. In 26 games since Dec. 17, Penner scored three goals. The 31-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Penner had chemistry with close friends and first-line mates Ryan Getzlaf and Perry, but his presence forced such younger talent as Swedish Olympian Jakob Silfverberg and Kyle Palmieri (nine goals, 14 assists) to the bench.
"We're here to win," Getzlaf said. "[Murray] rarely makes a move I don't agree with. We had chemistry, played well together, but it wasn't like we had a consistent line that's going to affect us mentally. Not a huge concern."
Palmieri skated with Perry and Getzlaf at practice on Tuesday.
Fasth won 15 games as a rookie in 2013, but was hampered by lower-body injuries and hasn't played since Nov. 18. In Edmonton, he's expected to be the starter ahead former King Ben Scrivens after the Oilers dealt goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota on Tuesday.
The deal secures Frederik Andersen (15-3) as the backup to Jonas Hiller, a day after Andersen was scheduled to board a flight to minor league Norfolk to make way for Fasth's return.
Andersen, who saved 49 of 52 shots Sunday in a win over Carolina, maintained throughout Fasth's absence that he wanted to make Murray's decision to demote him difficult, and Murray said "this was not the game plan."
His 2.12 goals-against average and .929 saves percentage are better than Hiller's. The deal also could mean the Ducks aim to re-sign Hiller, who is in the last year of his contract.
"Sometimes, you feel you're at the shorter end of things, but the way the season has gone has definitely been in my favor," said Hiller (26-9-4). "I hope I can re-sign. I would hope this makes it more logical."
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Etc.: Ducks center Saku Koivu renews acquaintances — possibly for the final time — with the team he formerly captained. Ducks center Mathieu Perreault (right arm) skated Tuesday, but is not expected to play.
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