Blake traded to Avalanche

The NHL's most dominant team has added one of the league's most dominant defenceman to its roster -- just in time for the stretch run.

The Los Angeles Kings ended months of rumour and speculation late Wednesday by trading hard-nosed defenceman Rob Blake to the NHL-leading Colorado Avalanche.

In return for Blake and centre Steve Reinprecht the Avs dealt right-winger Adam Deadmarsh, defenceman Aaron Miller, a 2001 first-round draft choice, a player to be named later and future considerations to the Kings.

Winner of the 1998 Norris Trophy as the NHL's premier blueliner, the six-foot-four, 227-pound Blake has consistently rated among the top NHL defencemen in goals, points, shots, hits and minutes played per game.

In his 12th season Blake has 17 goals and 32 assists in 54 games.

The Kings were widely expected to deal the Simcoe, Ont. native before the Mar. 13 trade deadline after he turned down a five-year, $40-million US offer made last summer and another, improved offer that was made last week.

Blake becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

This is the third straight year the Avalanche have added a top-flight defender for a run at the Stanley Cup. In 1999, Lacroix acquired Theo Fleury from the Calgary Flames. Fleury played 15 regular-season games before opting for free agency and signing with the New York Rangers.

Last season the team acquired future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins.

They are the NHL's top team with 87 points in 61 games.

"Rob Blake is an elite and one-of-a kind defenceman who is in his prime right now," said Avs GM Pierre Lacroix. "Blake is recognized as a major force in this league and an all-around great defenceman that combines size, skill, toughness and agility."

Reinprecht, a rookie, has 29 points in 59 games with the Kings.

Kings GM Dave Taylor said his team has added two players who add some toughness for the playoff race.

"Aaron Miller is a strong, gritty defenceman who will help provide us with the defensive stability we need, and Adam Deadmarsh provides us with a unique combination of toughness, grit and offensive ability that our club has been seeking," Taylor said.

Deadmarsh, who scored two goals for the Avs Wednesday night against the Bruins, has 13 goals and 13 assists in 38 games this season while Miller, a six-foot-three defenceman has 13 points in 55 games.