Hockey

Blues acquire Tkachuk

After months of rumour and speculation, Keith Tkachuk has finally been traded.

The St. Louis Blues added some much-needed scoring and offence to its lineup, acquiring the big, punishing power forward in return for Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, Jeff Taffe and a first-round draft pick.

"It's a sad day for him in many respects," said Tkachuk's agent, Bob Murray. "He has been part of this organization for 10 years and had hoped to remain with the Coyotes for all his years, but he understands the decision had to be made. But St. Louis is a very good organization."

On Monday, it was reported that the Blues were poised to acquire Eric Lindros for Pierre Turgeon, but that deal was called off.

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the team's medical staff had concerns about Lindros' health after a detailed examination.

With that in mind, Blues general manager Larry Pleau concentrated all of his effort in landing Tkachuk.

"Keith is one of only a handful of players in the league who can bring a blend of leadership, physical presence and goal-scoring ability to the rink, shift after shift," said Pleau.

"The price to acquire a player of Keith's quality is very high, and we will miss Michal Handzus and Ladislav Nagy, but we could not be more pleased to have Keith Tkachuk in a St. Louis Blues uniform."

Tkachuk was unavailable for comment.

With a new ownership in place, it's been rumoured for weeks that the Coyotes were poised to ship Tkachuk in an effort to dump his hefty $8.3 million US salary and make some budget cuts.

Tkachuk has 29 goals and 42 assists for 71 points in 64 games this season.

In return for Tkachuk, the Coyotes receive a nice assortment of players that have a lot of potential.

Two weeks ago, Phoenix general manager Cliff Fletcher said that he would have to receive a perfect package of players to trade Tkachuk. The Blues must have met Fletcher's demands.

In addition to a first-round draft pick, Fletcher wrangled three great prospects in Handzus, Nagy and Taffe.

Handzus, a big six-foot-five forward, has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 36 games.

Nagy, a five-foot-11 right winger, has eight goals and eight assists in 40 games.

Taffe was the Blues' first-round draft pick in the 2000 entry draft. He played for the University of Minnesota last year.

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