Acquiring Jan Hrdina is a coup for the New Jersey Devils. Hrdina is a proven player who can kill penalties, contribute to the power play and be effective in five-on-five situations. He also gives them another right-handed shot up front and, most importantly, is very responsible in the defensive zone. And anyone who knows New Jersey coach Pat Burns knows that is a prerequisite for playing in his system. The Devils lose some bulk by trading away Mike Rupp, but he was never able to pick up where he left off after last year's Stanley Cup run. In taking him on, Phoenix gets size up front and shrinkage in payroll. With captain Scott Stevens still battling concussion problems, the Devils would surely like to get another defenseman before the trading deadline, and you can never really say a team is finished making itself over until the trade deadline passes at 3 p.m. ET on March 9. If the right deal presents itself just about any team will make a move to improve.
Rupp, a right wing, had six goals and five assists in 51 games. He scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal and had two assists in the Devils' 3-0 win over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.
Hrdina had 11 goals and 15 assists in 55 games with Phoenix this season. The Czech native is in his sixth NHL season. He was acquired by the Coyotes from Pittsburgh a year ago.
"Jan Hrdina is a solid center who will add depth to the hockey club," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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