Narrowing their focus to the short-term and the rare chance to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup championship, the Detroit Red Wings acquired three-time Norris Trophy winner Chris Chelios, veteran winger Wendel Clark, goaltender Bill Ranford and bruising defenseman Ulf Samuelsson in the boldest of the league-record 21 trades made Tuesday before the NHL’s trading deadline.
The Red Wings paid a stiff price to firm up their defense, but they almost had to make a move after Uwe Krupp’s back problems worsened and clouded his future. Colorado’s acquisition of Theo Fleury from the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28 also gave Detroit General Manager Ken Holland incentive to upgrade his team, which is 3-7-2 in the last month and leads St. Louis by only three points for first in the Central Division and the No. 3 West playoff seeding.
“With all the injuries and suspensions, we were really concerned about our depth,” Detroit Coach Scotty Bowman said.
The Red Wings, who can become the first team to win the Cup three years in a row since the Islanders won four from 1980 through ’83, gave the Chicago Blackhawks talented young defenseman Anders Eriksson and two first-round draft picks for Chelios, who has eight goals and 26 points and a minus-four plus/minus rating in 65 games. Chelios, 37, approved the trade only after the Red Wings agreed to extend his contract through 2001-02.
The Red Wings also sent backup goalie Kevin Hodson and a 1999 second-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for a 1999 sixth-round pick and Clark, 32, who led the Lightning with 28 goals. They gave the Rangers a second-round pick in 1999 and a third-round pick in 2000 for Samuelsson, who will be 35 Friday and is eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1. Samuelsson broke his foot Monday but is expected to return within three weeks. For Ranford, who played on Stanley Cup-winning teams in Edmonton in 1988 and 1990 and was the playoff most valuable player in 1990 but struggled behind a terrible Tampa defense, Detroit gave up a conditional draft pick in June.
“Come playoff time, there’s nothing like experience. In Ulf Samuelsson, Chris Chelios, Bill Ranford and Wendel Clark, we’re getting a ton of experience,” Holland said. “Anders Eriksson is going to be a good player in this league, but we made a commitment we strongly want to pursue a championship this year and the next couple of years.”
The Washington Capitals, who lost to the Red Wings in last year’s Cup finals but have been ravaged by injuries and are near playoff elimination, were also active Tuesday. However, their intent was to dump players and salaries.
With their playoff hopes fading, the Capitals sent veteran center Dale Hunter to the Avalanche for a 1999 second-round draft pick. That will be a homecoming of sorts for Hunter in that he began his NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques, who became the Avalanche in 1995. The Capitals also sent winger Craig Berube to the Philadelphia Flyers for future considerations and late Monday traded playmaking center Joe Juneau to the offense-hungry Buffalo Sabres for minor league defenseman Alexei Tezikov.
“It’s been really tough, really emotional, after what we accomplished last year,” Capital General Manager George McPhee said of dismantling his team. “Pulling these guys out of the mix wasn’t easy, but they’re all unrestricted free agents and we weren’t going to get anything for them this summer if they signed elsewhere.”
Thirty players changed teams Tuesday, the sixth-highest deadline-day total. The Kings made two trades and the Mighty Ducks made one.
Attempting to add depth at center, the Ducks acquired Peter Zezel from the Vancouver Canucks. However, it is unclear when he will report because he wants to spend time with his gravely ill niece in Toronto. The Kings dealt inconsistent center/left wing Yanic Perreault to the Maple Leafs for prolific minor league right wing Jason Podollan and closed the books on a costly mistake by trading defenseman Steve Duchesne to the Flyers for defenseman Dave Babych and a 2000 fifth-round draft pick.
Before dealing Duchesne, who never showed the skill that led them to give him a three-year deal (plus an option) for $3.75 million a year, they bought out his contract. They then signed him to a lesser deal that will make him a free agent July 1 and traded him.
Many of the major deals involved Western Conference teams that apparently are trying to keep pace with Colorado and gear up to challenge the West-leading Dallas Stars in the playoffs.
Looking for playoff leadership, the surging San Jose Sharks acquired Montreal Canadien captain Vincent Damphousse for a fifth-round draft pick this year and a conditional draft pick or picks in 2000. Damphousse, who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1, is outstanding on faceoffs and dependable at both ends of the ice. He had 12 goals and 36 points in 65 games with the struggling Canadiens. “Obviously, the guy’s got some darned good credentials,” Shark General Manager Dean Lombardi said. “This guy has played at a high level, played for Team Canada [in the World Cup], so there’s more to him than just the numbers.”
The Stars’ only trade brought them center Derek Plante from Buffalo for a 1999 second-round pick. The Phoenix Coyotes got defenseman Stan Neckar from the Rangers for Jason Doig and a draft pick, the Blues reacquired Blair Atcheynum from the Nashville Predators, and the Edmonton Oilers fortified their defense by acquiring Jason Smith from Toronto for a fourth-round pick this year and second-rounder next year.
The East-leading Ottawa Senators made one move, shoring up their offense by acquiring winger Nelson Emerson from Chicago for winger Chris Murray. Montreal got center J.F. Jomphe, a former Duck, from Phoenix for future considerations, and the Florida Panthers and Buffalo exchanged young defensemen, with Mike Wilson going to the Panthers for Rhett Warrener.
The Flyers’ acquisition of Berube and Duchesne padded to five the number of ex-Flyers who have been brought back by General Manager Bob Clarke this season. The others are Mikael Renberg, Karl Dykhuis and Mark Recchi. Clarke also brought Ron Hextall back to Philadelphia in 1994.
NHL BIG DEALS
* Detroit--Acquired D Chris Chelios from Chicago for D Anders Eriksson, first-round picks in 1999 and 2001; acquired LW Wendel Clark and ’99 sixth-round pick from Tampa Bay for G Kevin Hodson and ’99 second-round pick, and also G Bill Ranford for conditional ’99 pick; acquired D Ulf Samuelsson from N.Y. Rangers for ’99 second-round and 2000 third-round picks.
* San Jose--Acquired C Vincent Damphousse from Montreal for 1999 fifth-round pick, conditional draft pick or picks in 2000.
* Buffalo--Acquired C Joe Juneau and 1999 third-round pick from Washington for D Alexei Tezikov and future considerations.
ALL TRADES, PAGE 4
* Traded D Steve Duchesne to Philadelphia for D Dave Babych and 2000 fifth-round draft pick; traded C Yanic Perreault to Toronto for RW Jason Podollan and 1999 third-round pick.
* Acquired C Peter Zezel from Vancouver for future considerations.
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Comings and Goings
The NHL trading deadline was noon Pacific time Tuesday, and plenty of teams made moves:
* Kings--Traded defenseman Steve Duchesne to Philadelphia for defenseman Dave Babych and a fifth-round draft pick in 2000; traded center Yanic Perreault for right wing Jason Podollan and a 1999 third-round draft pick.
* Mighty Ducks--Acquired center Peter Zezel from the Vancouver Canucks for future considerations.
* Buffalo Sabres--Acquired center Joe Juneau and a third-round pick in the 1999 draft from the Washington Capitals for defenseman Alexei Tezikov and future considerations.
* Calgary Flames--Acquired defenseman Lee Sorochan from the New York Rangers for defenseman Chris O’Sullivan.
* Colorado Avalanche--Acquired center Dale Hunter and a 2000 third-round draft pick from the Washington Capitals for a 1999 or 2000 second-round draft pick; acquired defenseman Sami Helenius from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional draft pick; signed defenseman Ben Storey to a multiyear contract.
* Dallas Stars--Acquired center Derek Plante from the Buffalo Sabres for a 1999 second-round draft pick.
* Detroit Red Wings--Acquired defenseman Chris Chelios from the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Anders Eriksson and first-round draft picks in 1999 and 2001; acquired left wing Wendel Clark and a 1999 sixth-round draft pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Kevin Hodson and a 1999 second-round pick; acquired defenseman Ulf Samuelsson from the New York Rangers for a second-round pick in 1999 and third-round pick in 2000; acquired goaltender Bill Ranford from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional draft pick in 1999.
* Edmonton Oilers--Acquired defenseman Jason Smith from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 1999 fourth-round draft pick and a 2000 second-round pick; acquires left wing Vladimir Vorobiev from N.Y. Rangers for right wing Kevin Brown.
* Florida Panthers--Acquired defenseman Mike Wilson from the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Rhett Warrener and a 1999 fifth-round draft pick.
* Montreal Canadiens--Acquired center J.F. Jomphe from the Phoenix Coyotes for future considerations.
* New Jersey Devils--Recalled defenseman Ken Sutton from Albany of the American Hockey League.
* Ottawa Senators--Acquired right wing Nelson Emerson from the Chicago Blackhawks for right wing Chris Murray.
* Philadelphia Flyers--Acquired left wing Craig Berube from the Washington Capitals for future considerations.
* Phoenix Coyotes--Acquired defenseman Stanislav Neckar from the New York Rangers for defenseman Jason Doig and a 1999 sixth-round draft pick.
* St. Louis Blues--Acquired right wing Blair Atcheynum from the Nashville Predators for a 2000 sixth-round draft pick.
* San Jose Sharks--Acquired center Vincent Damphousse from the Montreal Canadiens for a 1999 fifth-round draft pick, conditional draft pick or picks in 2000; acquired right wing Greg Pankewicz from the Calgary Flames for future considerations.