Flames deal Morris to Avalanche

The blueline that is the envy of the NHL just got a little deeper.

The Colorado Avalanche added Calgary Flames defenceman Derek Morris to their roster Tuesday as part of a five-player deal.

Coming to Calgary in the blockbuster trade is Avalanche star centre Chris Drury and defensive centre Stephane Yelle. The Flames also sent forwards Dean McAmmond and Jeff Shantz to Colorado.

Morris, 24, is considered one of the top young blueliners in the NHL and will only bolster a defensive corps that already features Rob Blake, Adam Foote and Martin Skoula.

"We are thrilled and excited to be able to add a top, skilled defenceman like Derek Morris to our lineup," Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix said in a statement.

Last season, Morris, an Edmonton native, had four goals and 34 assists in 61 games, while battling through a left wrist injury.

Morris, who was rumoured to be on the trading block in the off-season, is slated to make $2.5 million US this season, which is nearly $1 million US more than last year.

Known for his smooth skating and vision on the ice, the 6'0", 200-pound Morris has notched 34 goals and 129 assists 349 games in his five seasons in the league.

Morris was Calgary's first round pick (13th overall) in the 1996 NHL draft. The following season, he was named to the NHL All-Star Rookie team for the 1997-98 season.

Drury gives the Flames another legitimate scoring threat, not to mention a player that could fit in well with all-star winger -- and last season's NHL scoring champion -- Jarome Iginla.

Drury, who will also earn $2.5 million US this season, had 21 goals and 25 assists in 82 games last year, his fourth in the NHL -- all with Colorado. He also had five goals and seven assists in 21 playoff games.

"Chris Drury and winning are intertwined," Flames GM Craig Button said in a statement. "He is a very good player in all areas of the game and we are very excited about adding him and the elements he brings to the Calgary Flames."

Yelle, 28, had five goals and 12 assists in 73 games with the Avs last season, primarily in a penalty killing and checking role.

"Stephane Yelle has been an important contributor to two Stanley Cup teams with Colorado and is a consistent and proven two-way National Hockey League player," added Button.

McAmmond, 29, had a career-high 21 goals and 30 assists in 73 games for the Flames last season while playing on the team's top line with Iginla and Craig Conroy.

Shantz, 28, had three goals and three assists in 43 games.