Pens trade for two players
Penguins general manager Ray Shero on Thursday used a 2007 second-round draft choice acquired in the Mark Recchi trade to pick up a speedy left winger and goaltender from the San Jose Sharks.
It was the second trade in as many days for Shero, who received 50-point scorer Nils Ekman and German goaltender Patrick Ehelechner after sending a 2007 third-rounder to Nashville on Wednesday for center Dominic Moore and forward Libor Pivko.
Shero also said that restricted free-agent right winger Colby Armstrong accepted the Penguins’ qualifying offer yesterday. The two-way contract calls for Armstrong to make a salary of approximately $817,000 in the NHL and $75,000 in the minors.
The Penguins still have eight picks remaining in the 2007 amateur draft, including their first- and second-rounders and three fourth-round choices.
“That was critical for me,” Shero said. “I’ve given up a second- and a third-round pick in two days. Coming from Nashville and Ottawa, we built those teams through the draft. They’re both good players.”
For dealing the 38-year-old Recchi to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Penguins have received Niklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos, Ekman and Ehelechner.
“The Recchi trade was made for a reason,” Shero said of the move made by former general manager Craig Patrick. “Recchi got to win a Stanley Cup, and the Penguins got a second-round pick. It would be much more difficult for me to give that up if we didn’t have another one.”
Ekman, a 6-foot, 185-pound left winger, was the key to the trade. He established career highs in assists (36) and points (57) in 77 games for the Sharks last season.
The 30-year-old Ekman has recorded back-to-back 20-goal and 50-point seasons, and his plus-50 rating over the past two seasons ranks first among forwards in the NHL.
“Ekman’s a good player,” Shero said. “He’s got real good speed. He brings speed, can really shoot the puck and is pretty responsible defensively. He’ll play in our top six, make us better up front and give us good speed.”
Ehelechner, 21, played for Manheim and Duisburg of the German League last season, when he posted a 3.68 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 27 games. The 6-2, 170-pounder was an Ontario Hockey League All-Star in 2005, when he played for the Sudbury Wolves.
Ehelechner, a fifth-round draft choice (139th overall) by San Jose in 2003, also has played for Germany twice at the World Junior tournament.
Shero hopes Ehelechner, who is under contract for two years, will sign to play for the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“He’s a kid that was trapped by San Jose,” Shero said. “I was trying to get a goalie prospect, because we don’t have a lot in our system. San Jose has done a wonderful job drafting goaltenders. They have the best stable in this league. It’s worth a chance.”