St. Louis sends its leading scorer Weight to Hurricanes

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Blues made their second major trade in two days.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The top team in the NHL isn't content to stand pat.

The Carolina Hurricanes acquired veteran center Doug Weight from the St. Louis Blues on Monday, adding another important piece in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Weight, a four-time All-Star and a member of the U.S. Olympic team, is scheduled to join the Hurricanes on Thursday.

"This is certainly a statement to everybody how serious we are about our chances to make a run to the championship," said Jim Rutherford, Carolina's president and general manager.

The 35-year-old Weight led the Blues with 33 assists and 44 points in 47 games this season. He was named to the U.S. team that will be led by Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette next month in Turin, and was considered a trade-deadline target for several top teams. Weight is in the last year of a five-year contract that pays him $5.7 million this year, with Carolina picking up $2.1 million of that salary, Rutherford said.

The Hurricanes also received the rights to left wing Erkki Rajamaki, currently playing in the Finnish League. They sent right wing Jesse Boulerice, center Mike Zigomanis and the rights to unsigned draft pick Magnus Kahnberg to the Blues, along with three draft picks -- including this year's first-round selection.

With the trade, Weight goes from the worst team in the NHL with 30 points heading into Monday's game against Calgary to a Carolina team with a franchise-record 76 points through 51 games. The Hurricanes have won 13 of 14 heading into a four-game road trip that starts today in Montreal. They also travel to New Jersey, Boston and Tampa Bay before returning home to play Pittsburgh on Feb. 10.

Weight, who waived a no-trade clause, said he expected to be traded after next month's Olympic break.

"It makes me happy to go somewhere where they're ecstatic to get me," Weight said. "I want to be a part of that."

Rutherford said the team -- which had extra draft picks -- didn't consider the price too hefty to add depth as it heads into the final part of the regular season. He said the Hurricanes first discussed acquiring Weight two months ago, and pursued the matter further in the past two weeks.

The move comes several weeks before the March 9 trade deadline, which gives Weight time to settle in with his new team before the two-week break.

"The nice thing for us is we have a team that Peter has really brought together with his team-building and coaching style, and we have to be careful with the chemistry of the team, and Doug Weight is a perfect fit for us," Rutherford said. "He can fit into any situation on any line."

The deal was the second in as many days for the Blues, who traded second-leading scorer Mike Sillinger to Nashville on Sunday for forward Timofei Shishkanov. Team president Mark Sauer said St. Louis was in "a rebuilding mode."

"We're in the process of getting this franchise healthy," said Larry Pleau, senior vice president and general manager of the Blues. "Better days are going to lie ahead, but it's not easy to get there. We're taking some tough, tough steps."

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