Predators get Witt from Caps for prospect, pick

Updated: March 9, 2006, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Nashville Predators acquired veteran defenseman Brendan Witt from the Washington Capitals on Thursday for minor league forward Kris Beech and a first-round pick in this year's draft.

The 31-year-old Witt had one goal, 10 assists and 141 penalty minutes -- the most of any NHL defenseman -- in 58 games with the Capitals, who have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference this season.

He was a first-round draft choice by Washington in 1993 and played all 10 NHL seasons with the Capitals.

"He's an in-your-face, stopper-type defenseman that can handle weight, and we need a little more bang in the defensive zone," said Predators coach Barry Trotz, who coached Witt in Portland of the AHL in 1996-97. "We've got a young back end with lots of skill, and the one area we wanted to improve upon was the size for the playoffs."

Witt, who had spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals, asked to be traded at the start of this season, saying he didn't want to be part of a rebuilding effort. He was a healthy scratch for Washington's 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Capitals coach Glen Hanlon praised Witt's effort despite his desire to be moved.

"He made a difficult situation very easy," Hanlon said. "He played extremely hard every game. He's made a decision for his family and his career and we respect that. We just want to make sure that when we play against him, that we beat him."

The deal was completed just before the NHL's trade deadline and in advance of the Predators' game at Vancouver on Thursday night.

Beech, who has a goal and two assists in five games with Nashville this season, returns to the Capitals, who picked him seventh overall in the 1999 draft. He played four games for Washington before being traded to Pittsburgh in 2001 as part of the deal for Jaromir Jagr.

In other moves shortly before the deadline, the Capitals shipped left wing Jeff Friesen to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a second-round pick in this year's draft and claimed forward Rico Fata off waivers from the Atlanta Thrashers.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press