Help on the way
Flyers acquire Amonte for draft picks, prospectPosted: Monday March 10, 2003 7:06 PM
Updated: Tuesday March 11, 2003 9:33 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Flyers finally got the scorer they've sought all season.
"I'm thrilled to be part of a team that's on the cusp of going all the way," said Amonte, a three-time 40-goal scorer. "I don't think I can go wrong playing on this team."
The trade, made on the eve of the NHL trade deadline that arrives Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST, sends Amonte to the Flyers for left wing Guillaume Lefebvre, Philadelphia's second-round draft pick in the 2004 draft and Atlanta's third-round pick this season, which Philadelphia got in a trade last season.
Many teams were active Monday when eight trades were completed, and no club was busier than the bankrupt Buffalo Sabres, who made three deals. The New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars, the Western Conference leader, each made two trades, as did the NHL points leaders, the Ottawa Senators, and Phoenix.
The Coyotes and Sabres swung the last deal of the night. After a 2-2 tie with Colorado, the Coyotes sent center Daniel Briere and a third-round choice in the 2004 draft to the Sabres for center Chris Gratton and a fourth-round pick next year.
The Atlantic Division-leading Devils acquired defenseman Richard Smehlik and a conditional pick in next year's draft from the Atlanta Thrashers for a fourth-round selection in this year's draft. New Jersey also obtained right wing Grant Marshall from Columbus for another conditional draft pick next year.
"It's a cold, harsh, stark reality of where we are as a franchise," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "But it's an opportunity to reaccelerate the building process for what will amount to focus on not only next season, but even more so, beyond a new collective bargaining agreement."
The league's agreement with the players expires following the 2003-04 season.
Barnes, the Sabres' captain, was sent to Dallas for center Mike Ryan and Dallas' second-round selection in the 2003 draft. Ray is off to another bankrupt club in Ottawa for future considerations. He spent all of his 14 NHL seasons in Buffalo, where he racked up few points and lots of penalty minutes.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to go to a contender," Ray said. "It's something the Sabres didn't have to do, but I appreciate the fact they did it."
Dallas has 93 points and is shooting for its second title in five years.
"It's a great opportunity, it's something you play for ever since you were a kid, to lift that Cup above your head," Barnes said.
In other moves, Chicago traded defenseman Lyle Odelein to Dallas for defenseman Sami Helenius and a conditional draft pick, and Ottawa acquired center C Bob Wren from Nashville for future considerations.
Amonte has had a disappointing season in his first year with Phoenix, recording 13 goals and 23 assists. The 32-year-old right wing signed a four-year, $24-million contract with the Coyotes last offseason after spending 8 1/2 seasons with the Blackhawks.
"Tony is a premier player in the league. He's a guy that can shoot the puck, he'll be great on the power play," said Jeremy Roenick, who played with Amonte in Chicago. "He brings a lot of emotion, he works really hard. We can't look for anybody to be a Messiah for us, but he is definitely going to improve our hockey club tremendously."
It was general manager Bob Clarke's sixth trade for a forward since January. The Flyers acquired two-time All-Star Sami Kapanen from Carolina last month, and made other deals to get Claude Lapointe from the Islanders, Eric Chouinard from Montreal, Todd Warriner from Vancouver and Jamie Wright from Calgary. They also signed free agent Joe Sacco.
The Flyers trail Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey by only four points, despite losing their last three games, two in overtime.
Amonte significantly upgrades an offense that has struggled at times. The Flyers have only three goals in the last three games. In a nine-game stretch from Jan. 24 to Feb. 12, they had just eight goals and were shut out four times.
Amonte scored a career-high 44 goals in 1998-99, and the next season had 43 goals and 41 assists for a career-high 84 points. In 920 career games spanning 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Blackhawks and Coyotes, Amonte has 365 goals and 395 assists. He has scored at least 27 goals in the last seven seasons.
"He's not just a scorer. He's got great speed, great hands," Clarke said. "This is a real top acquisition to our club."