While other teams were focused on the free agent market, the Edmonton Oilers re-vamped their roster with a couple of trades.
The Oilers have traded hard-hitting left winger Raffi Torres to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for 21-year-old centre Gilbert Brule, and sent defenceman Joni Pitkanen to the Carolina Hurricanes for winger Erik Cole.
The Oilers have now made three trades in the last few days. On Sunday they acquired defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky from Los Angeles for forward Jarret Stoll and defenceman Matt Greene.
They might not be done there - the Oilers are also in hot pursuit of unrestricted free agent forward Marian Hossa. TSN's Ryan Rishaug reported today that the Oilers are very much in the mix for Hossa, and have gone so far as to have at least one member of the team talk to the unrestricted free agent forward about the Oilers and the city.
Torres, 26, is a stocky winger who relishes the physical side of the game, but missed the last 49 games of the 2007-2008 season with a knee injury. He had just 11 points in 32 games, the third straight season in which his point totals dipped after he hit a career-high 46 points in 67 games with the Oilers in 2004-2005.
Brule has managed 32 points in 146 career games with Columbus, getting a trip to the AHL this season (where he scored 10 points in 16 regular season games and five points in 13 playoff games) in an effort to regain the confidence that he had displayed in junior. He was drafted sixth overall by the Blue Jackets in 2005.
"I need to work on a few things and get the experience of playing more," Brule told the Canadian Press. "I think it'll be a good fit for me here, the type of style they play - a fast-paced game.
"It's going to be a good trade for me. I'm very happy."
Torres has two years and $5.15-million remaining on his current contract, while Brule will earn $765,000 next season before he's a restricted free agent.
"Raffi Torres is an experienced NHL player who combines a physical presence with the ability to score goals," said Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson. "He will also bring to our club the experience of someone who has played deep into the playoffs as he was a significant contributor to Oilers' run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals."
Pitkanen is a restricted free agent. He had 8 goals and 18 assists for 26 points in 63 games last season. Pitkanen was the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft, but has now been traded twice in his short NHL career.
"Joni is the type of puck-moving, offensive player we hoped to add to our defensive corps," said Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford. "He is a proven NHL player who will join Joe Corvo in strengthening our power play."
Cole, 29, will essentially replace Torres on the wing for Edmonton. He scored 22 goals and 29 assists last season with Carolina. He has 81 goals in the last three seasons, including 30 in just 60 games in 2005-2006.
Cole has one year left on his current deal at $4 million.
"They've had me on their radar for a little while," Cole said on a conference call. "Now it's come to be. I'm excited to be going to the Edmonton Oilers.
"I think it's going to be a great opportunity and we should have a great team."