JOHN WAWROW, AP Hockey Writer
Jarome Iginla and Thomas Vanek went from the bottom of the standings to playoff contention after being two of the most notable players dealt at the NHL’s trading deadline on Wednesday.
It was a particularly significant jump for Iginla. The 20-year veteran was dealt to Los Angeles by the league-worst Colorado Avalanche. The Kings sit in ninth place with 66 points in the West standings, and a point behind St. Louis, which holds the conference’s second and final wild-card playoff spot.
“I hope to go there and help out, but also be a pleasant surprise,” the 39-year-old Iginla told Canada’s TSN cable network. “I know there’s questions and stuff about whether I can (produce) or not, and I believe I can.”
Iginla is a 12-time 30-goal scorer who has just eight goals and 10 assists in 61 games this season. In exchange for Iginla, the Avalanche acquired a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
As for Vanek, the struggling Red Wings dealt the 11-time 20-goal-scorer to the Florida Panthers, who have surged into contention in the East. With 68 points, Florida was tied with the New York Islanders, and one behind Toronto, which holds the conference’s second wild-card berth.
“Thomas is a proven scorer in this league who will add some offensive savvy and experience to our young group of forwards,” Panthers president of hockey operations Dale Tallon said. “We believe strongly in our group, and we’re confident that he will help our power play and supplement our core effectively.”
Vanek has enjoyed a resurgence since signing a one-year contract with Detroit last summer after he struggled the previous two seasons in Minnesota. Vanek was leading the Red Wings with 15 goals and was second on the team with 38 points.
The Red Wings are 15th in the East standings and enter a rebuilding mode while in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990. Their 25-season playoff run is the longest active streak in North America’s professional sports.
“We worked the phone for a number of days and I think we got the most we could in every deal,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press. “Given where we are in the standings, we need picks to add more players to help our program.”
The Red Wings also dealt gritty forward Steve Ott to Montreal and defenseman Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers in exchange for conditional draft picks.
The Panthers, by comparison, have climbed back into contention courtesy of a 9-4 run.
The Canadiens beefed up their Atlantic Division team by acquiring checking-line veteran Dwight King from Los Angeles. This continued a trend for Montreal to add toughness to a team that’s 4-2 since Claude Julien replaced Michel Therrien as coach.
The Canadiens also added defensemen Jordie Benn and Brandon Davidson. In exchange, they sent out draft picks, unhappy defenseman Greg Pateryn and diminutive forward David Desharnais as part of its makeover.
In a deal struck just after midnight, the defending Western Conference-champion San Jose Sharks acquired winger Jannik Hansen from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if they win the Stanley Cup.
AP Hockey Writers Stephen Whyno and Larry Lage contributed to this story.
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