Oilers swing blockbuster deal, Leafs sign Blake
The Edmonton Oilers made a move to address their roster on Day1 of the NHL's free-agent signing period with a major trade, while the Toronto Maple Leafshave found a winger to play with captain Mats Sundin.
The Oilers acquired defenceman Joni Pitkanen and forward Geoff Sanderson on Sunday from the Philadelphia Flyers for blue-liner Jason Smith and forward Joffrey Lupul.
Toronto made its splash by signing unrestricted free-agent forward Jason Blake.
Pitkanen, who scored a career-high 43 points in 77 games with the Flyers last season, is expected to provide a major boost to Edmonton's woeful power play. The Oilers power play ranked fourth-worst in the NHL last season with a 14.2 per cent success rate.
"Joni is a talented young defenceman with a proven track record," Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe said in a statement. "He possesses the offensive skills we have been seeking on the blue-line and look forward to having him in the lineup."
Sanderson will fill a void for veteran leadership on a young Edmonton team. The two-time all-star had 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 58 games with Philadelphia last year.
In Smith, the Flyers have obtained a gritty, consistent defenceman who was the captain in Edmonton.
"As happy as we are with the addition of Pitkanen and Sanderson, it is difficult to see Jason leave us," said Lowe. "Jason has been an exceptional leader and member of the Oilers and has served proudly as our team captain."
Lupul was obtained by the Oilers last off-season from Anaheim as part of the Chris Pronger deal.The 24-year-old had a disappointing season with his hometown team, scoring 16 goals and adding 12 assists with a team-worst minus-29 rating in 81 games.
The deal was one of several for both teams in the past few weeks.
Edmonton also dipped into the free agent market on Sunday, signing defencemen Denis Grebeshkovand Dick Tarnstrom to one-year contracts.
The Flyers were very active on Sunday, most notably for landing top-tier free-agent centre Daniel Brière with an eight-year, $52-million US contract.
Philadelphia also made a splash prior to the free agency period, acquiring and extending the contracts of Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell from the Nashville Predators.
Leafs pin hopes on Blake
The Leafs believe they've found their long-awaited first-line winger for Sundin, one of theNHL'spremier centres.
Blake inked a five-year, $20-million deal with the Leafs after playing the last five and a half seasons of his seven-year NHL career with the New York Islanders.
Blake scored 40 goals last season while also adding 29 assists for a career-high 69 points in 82 games.
The four-time 20-goal scorer, known for his speed and penalty-killing, will make $5 million next season, $4.5 million in each of the following two seasons and $3 million in the final two years of his deal.
With files from the Canadian Press