The Ducks did not remain satisfied with possessing the NHL’s best record in the first week of March, trading forward Dustin Penner and goalie Viktor Fasth on Tuesday in exchange for veteran Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas and a pair of draft picks.
Penner, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end who had 13 goals and 19 assists playing mostly alongside first-line stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in his second stint with the Ducks, was dealt to the Washington Capitals for a fourth-round draft pick that the Ducks then swapped to Dallas.
Fasth, who won 15 games as a rookie in 2013 but was hampered by lower body injuries and hadn’t played since Nov. 18, went to the Edmonton Oilers, where he should be the starter, in exchange for a fifth-round pick this summer and a third-round pick in 2015.
With Wednesday standing as the NHL’s trade deadline and the Ducks still possessing forward depth and two first- and second-round picks this year, General Manager Bob Murray said, “I have no idea what the next 24 hours will bring. If I can make a deal that helps this hockey team, we will do it.”
Robidas, who turned 37 Monday and is in the final stages of recovering from a broken leg after last playing Nov. 29, is viewed as a final, necessary piece to upgrade the team’s improved toughness following last season’s first-round playoff elimination.
“We had set a goal ... if I could get a right-hand-shot, shutdown-type defenseman who plays hard ... that was one of our needs,” Murray said. “I’ve always liked how hard he competes, how hard he plays.”
Six of the Ducks' other seven defensemen are left-handed shooters.
Robidas is expected to arrive in Anaheim on Thursday and could play within the next two weeks, Murray said.
“This makes our team more difficult to play against -- go ask our forwards. They [didn’t] enjoy playing against this guy,” Murray said.
Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric was a teammate of the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Robidas in Dallas before joining the Ducks last year.
“When he’s healthy, he’s a great player ... great teammate,” Fistric said. “Looked up to him a lot, taught a lot of stuff. A warrior, an in-your-face type guy on the ice, and any team that has him will be better.
“His leadership is second to none. Very hard working, skill to go with it, tenacious, little fire-rocket kind of guy. Huge competitor, never backs down.”
Perry said although losing close friend Penner “was tough to see,” the Ducks get “a hard-nosed player who gets in the face of top guys, been doing it for a long time.”
At Tuesday’s practice, forward Kyle Palmieri (nine goals, 14 assists) played alongside Perry and Getzlaf.
After Getzlaf worked to persuade the Ducks to sign Penner from the Kings in the off-season, Penner was a healthy scratch in the season opener for conditioning reasons. He was a healthy scratch five more times as Coach Bruce Boudreau worked to find playing time for 14 forwards.
In 26 games since Dec. 17, Penner scored three goals.
“Depth is great, but it was getting in the way,” Murray said, noting the opportunity of exchanging one unrestricted free agent for another. “It’s unfortunate for Dustin. It’s the one that worked well right now. He’s getting a heck of an opportunity. I’m pretty sure I know who he’s getting to play with over there. I hope he’s ready to go and concentrates.”
Getzlaf said he had “no voice” in the deal, but thought that the trade makes the Ducks better.
“We’re here to win,” Getzlaf said. “[Murray] rarely makes a move I don’t agree with. I agreed. We had chemistry, played well together, but it wasn’t like we had a consistent line that’s going to affect us mentally. Not a huge concern.”
Fasth’s exit comes after superb play in 2013 that won him a contract extension. He was out Oct. 18-Nov. 14 with a lower body injury, however, then came back to lose two games and went on the shelf again.
Murray said the decision to move Fasth was difficult. He was briefly emotional in discussing it.
“Viktor’s a class act, a great guy who battled to get back,” Murray said. “This year in our goaltending went nothing like I thought it was going to go. This is not the game plan.
“It came down to -- you’ve watched Freddie Andersen play, you got Jonas there -- that had to be cleaned up for the sake of the hockey team.
“Too many people around, too much uncertainty, is not a good thing. It had to be done. Viktor’s going to be a No. 1 in Edmonton.”
Andersen, who saved 49 of 52 shots in a Sunday win over Carolina, maintained throughout Fasth’s absence that he wanted to make Murray’s decision to demote him difficult. His 2.12 goals-against average and .929 saves percentage are better than Hiller’s.
“Pretty much, all I could do is make an impression every time I was up here,” Andersen said. “There’s been learning curves, but I feel like I’ve been solid.
“Was going to fly out today ... I got the call this morning that they traded Viktor. I just tried to get out of bed, to the ice.”
Hiller’s job security might also have been enhanced as he concludes his contract year.
“Some things, you feel you’re at the shorter end of things, but the way the season has gone has definitely been in my favor,” said Hiller (26-9-4). “I hope I can re-sign. I would hope this makes it more logical.”