Edmonton Oilers rookie general manager Steve Tambellini bided his time before pulling the trigger on a pair of late trades at Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.
Tambellini secured forward Patrick O'Sullivan in a three-way trade involving the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings, and forward Ales Kotalik from the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round draft pick.
"When we got a sense we could acquire both of these players, we pushed hard and became aggressive," Tambellini said. "We made sure it happened."
First, Los Angeles sent O'Sullivan and a second-round pick to the Hurricanes for forward Justin Williams.
Then, Carolina reacquired forward Erik Cole from Edmonton for O'Sullivan and the second-rounder, which the Oilers used to pick up Kotalik from Buffalo.
"I think most people knew where we needed to add," Tambellini said. "Both are outstanding players."
O'Sullivan, 24, is a slick offensive player with 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 62 games this season.
He has totalled 41 goals and 109 points in 188 NHL games since he was drafted in the second round (56th overall) by the Minnesota Wild in 2004.
"With Patrick, he is becoming a prominent player in the NHL," Tambellini said. "He had a great year last year [22 goals, 53 points]."
Kotalik is producing at a comparable clip this season with 13 goals and 32 points, but he has reached the 20-goal plateau three times in seven NHL seasons.
"With Ales, he is a proven performer," Tambellini said. "His areas of strength are obvious — a heavy shot, intelligence and skill.
"They're both strong players. There was so much discussion over the last week, but we knew what we were looking for."
And what they were looking to unload.
'I'm a little disappointed'
The Hurricanes originally traded Cole to the Oilers for defenceman Joni Pitkanen last July 1, but the 30-year-old forward struggled offensively with 16 goals and 27 points in 63 games.
"It wasn't a performance issue with him, it was just a situational issue with his contract," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, mindful that Cole is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the off-season.
"I'm a little disappointed that things did not work out here," Cole said. "It is not the way I had envisioned or that I had hoped, but at the end of the day, they had to make sure they were looking after their assets and making sure they were looking toward the future.
"For me, it should be a pretty easy transition back to Carolina. Obviously, it is a place that is very familiar."
Cole spent his first six seasons in Raleigh, N.C., helping the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in 2006.