Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller stops a shot by Washington Capitals right wing Chris Clark (17) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009, in Washington. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON - The Capitals shook up their roster a bit Monday, acquiring left wing Jason Chimera from the Blue Jackets in a trade that sends Chris Clark and defenceman Milan Jurcina to Columbus.
The deal cuts about US$2 million in salary this season from Washington's payroll, which could clear room for another trade.
Chimera has eight goals and nine assists this season, along with 47 penalty minutes, more than anyone on Washington's roster. The deal moves him from the last-place Blue Jackets - a team on a franchise-record-tying nine-game losing streak - to a first-place Capitals club.
"We needed a guy that was a little more physical and plays with an edge," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He can be a really good energy guy."
Clark was in his fifth year with the Capitals, his fourth as the team's captain. He has four goals and 11 assists this season, but his playing time has diminished over the years.
Both Boudreau and vice-president/GM George McPhee said the team won't select a new captain immediately.
Jurcina was in his fourth season with Washington and part of a crowded group of defencemen.
"We just thought it was the right trade for us right now," McPhee said. "We had extra defencemen all year, and it's not a great situation to be in. (Also) we just had too many right wingers and not enough left wingers."
The trade was announced a few hours before Washington was to host the Carolina Hurricanes, and Columbus was to host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
Chimera was one of the most popular players in the Blue Jackets locker room. In his three full seasons with the club, he established himself as a hard worker and one of the team's fastest skaters. But he also never quite lived up to expectations. He also helped begin the incident that led to Alex Ovechkin's getting hurt earlier in the season.
He had 17 goals and 13 assists with the Blue Jackets in 80 games in 2005-2006, then came back with 15 goals and 21 assists two years ago. But injuries limited him to 49 games last season, when he had only eight goals and 22 points.
The Blue Jackets, the youngest team in the NHL, appear to have addressed two of their major needs in the deal.
Jurcina lends a veteran hand on the blue line, while Clark should offer leadership for a roster with an average age of 26.
"We're acquiring a defenceman who's going to solidify our group," Columbus GM Scott Howson said. "Chris Clark's been a captain there. It's not very often that you get to acquire a captain. So he'll bring a veteran, leadership presence to our team which will be very beneficial to our group."