UPDATED March 8, 2010 with details on the conditional draft pick in the trade for Fredrik Modin.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings capped what was, perhaps, the most uneventful National Hockey League trade deadline days in recent years by acquiring veteran forwards Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin.
Halpern, 33, was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Teddy Purcell and a third round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (originally Florida’s selection, acquired by the Kings in a draft-day trade on June 27, 2009, in exchange for the 107th and 138th overall picks in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft).
Halpern has scored nine goals and has added eight assists for seventeen points with 27 penalty minutes in 55 games this season. The 5-11, 190-pound center has played in 704 NHL games with the Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars and the Lightning, scoring 131 goals with 183 assists for 314 points and 542 penalty minutes.
Halpern, a native of Potomac, Maryland, served as the Capitals’ captain and as an assistant captain with the Lightning.
The Kings have had their eye on Halpern for awhile now.
“He was a guy we targeted fairly early in the process,” Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi told LAKings.com. “Given the players that were out there, it was all about trying to find the right fit, and I think the one thing Halpern does is that he addresses a lot of needs.”
“He can do a lot of things for you,” Lombardi added. “He can play center, he can play wing, he’s good on face-offs, he kills penalties. It gives us a lot of versatility in terms of what he can do for us but also the fit.”
Leadership and experience added to Halpern’s appeal.
“He’s always been a good team guy, a guy who’s worn [captain or assistant captain] letters in the past,” said Lombardi. “He’s been that third or fourth-line center who can check and kill penalties and is good on face-offs.”
“He has also shown that he can move up and play with good players because he’s a smart player,” added Lombardi. “Traditionally, he’ll be that responsible guy that a coach can trust and a good playoff-type player.”
“When you’re trying to find a fit, you’re looking at what your twelve [forwards] are probably lacking. That was one of the things we were looking for—face-offs, dependability, penalty-killing, and he certainly fit that description.”
Once the Kings had Halpern in the fold, the next piece of the puzzle they were looking to add was a big, physical forward, and Modin fit the bill.
“We were kind of looking at the other pieces we had in place that, if we could add a player like Halpern, and then, hopefully, if we could add some size, we kind of liked the way our group of twelve looked,” Lombardi explained. “Once we got Halpern, we focused on a guy with size, is heavy and if he can kill penalties, it’s a bonus. [Modin is] a good fit for us.”
Modin, 35, was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Details on the conditional draft pick were not released when the deal was announced, but the Kings have since confirmed that the pick will go to the Blue Jackets only if the Kings win the Stanley Cup this season.
The 35-year-old native of Sundsvall, Sweden has scored two goals and has added four assists for six points with twelve penalty minutes in 42 games with the Blue Jackets this season.
Modin missed the first 31 games this season due to injury.
In 830 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay and Columbus, the 6-4. 218-pound forward has scored 222 goals and has tallied 225 assists for 447 points with 425 penalty minutes.
In 51 NHL playoff games, Modin has scored eleven goals and has added eleven assists for 22 points with forty penalty minutes. He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.
The five-time twenty-goal scorer and two-time thirty-goal scorer, who was selected by Toronto in the third round (64th overall) of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, represented Sweden at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino. He is also one of 23 members of the “Triple Gold Club,” comprised of players who have won a Stanley Cup and a gold medal in both the Olympics and World Championships.
Like Halpern, Modin brings veteran experience to the Kings, but more important, he is a big forward who is versatile.
“Experience is certainly helpful, but the biggest thing we were looking at is the player,” Lombardi explained. “I think this is a good move for us. He’s a heavy player. There’s a little bit of [Michal] Handzus in his game.”
“He’s really hard to play against down low, below the dots,” Lombardi added. “Similar to Handzus, he’s a smart player. He’s not the fastest player in the world, but he knows where to go, he can really shoot a puck and he’s a guy who has shown he can kill penalties at a high level.”
One concern during the trade process was Modin’s injury history.
“Obviously, there’s still a history of injury with Freddy that you’ve got to guard against,” said Lombardi. “Although it’s not a big deal, it’s still important to us and it has to be done right, you’re trying to take into consideration his injury factor, so it goes right down to the end.”
Halpern, who will earn $2,000,000 this season, and Modin, who will haul in $3,500,000 this year, will become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2010—it is clear that they are hired guns being brought in for the playoff-run—rentals who are not likely to be re-signed when their contracts expire on June 30, 2010.
Indeed, with the Kings playing well and looking very much like a playoff team for the first time since the 2001-02 season, Lombardi was not interested in making big changes.
“Very few [deadline] deals are impact deals,” Lombardi stressed. “For most teams, it’s all about fit and establishing a reasonable price for a rental. In Freddy’s case, like Ryan Smyth, he had to waive a no-trade clause. It’s nice, as we start to grow, that [players] are looking at [Los Angeles] as, not only a great place to play, but a place you can win.”
“That’s what I always felt made the [Los Angeles] Lakers special,” Lombardi elaborated. “It’s not just that this is one of the greatest places in the world to live.”
“It’s another subtle sign that your franchise is getting better.”
In the Halpern deal, the Kings gave up floundering winger Teddy Purcell, who has been a healthy scratch in 21 games this season.
The 24-year-old native of St. John’s, Newfoundland has scored three goals and has added three assists for six points with four penalty minutes in 41 games this season. In 91 NHL games, all with the Kings, the 6-2, 198-pound forward has scored eight goals and has contributed seventeen assists for 25 points with eight penalty minutes.
Purcell was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 27, 2007.
In other roster moves, the Kings recalled forward Scott Parse from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, their primary minor league affiliate. They also assigned forwards Oscar Moller and Marc-André Cliche to the Monarchs.
Parse, 25, has scored eight goals and has added thirteen assists for 21 points with twenty penalty minutes with the Kings this season, his first in the NHL. The 5-11, 197-pound native of Portage, Michigan has also scored four goals and has tallied eleven assists for fifteen points with 21 penalty minutes in fourteen games with the Monarchs this season.
Parse was selected by the Kings in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Moller, 21, has played in 34 games with the Kings this season, scoring four goals and adding three assists for seven points with four penalty minutes.
The 5-10 186-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden has also scored nine goals and ten assists for nineteen points with fourteen penalty minutes in 26 games with the Monarchs this season.
Cliche, 22, made his NHL debut on March 2 at Dallas. Cliche has scored ten goals and has contributed eleven assists for 21 points with thirty penalty minutes in fifty games with Manchester this season.
The 6-0, 198-pound native of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec was acquired from New York Rangers on February 5, 2007, along with Jason Ward, Jan Marek and a third round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (later traded to Buffalo on June 21, 2008), for Sean Avery and John Seymour.
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