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Los Angeles Kings player Kevin Westgarth talks on his phone during a break in negotiations between the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association in New York December 5, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Los Angeles Kings player Kevin Westgarth talks on his phone during a break in negotiations between the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association in New York December 5, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Hurricanes acquire key lockout negotiator Westgarth Add to ...

OK, so it’s not exactly the earth-shaking blockbuster that the NHL was waiting for, no Roberto Luongo deal, but the trading game in the post-lockout era started on Sunday morning and what made it one deal unique and interesting is that it involved one of the key lockout negotiators – Los Angeles Kings’ enforcer Kevin Westgarth.

The Kings swapped Westgarth to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forwards Anthony Stewart, plus a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft and a sixth-rounder in the 2014 draft.

Westgarth did get his name on the Stanley Cup last season, despite playing in only 25 regular-season games and zero in the playoffs. His greater comes from the fact that graduated from Princeton and was on the front lines of the labour negotiation that ultimately was settled just this past Saturday, when NHL players ratified the new collective bargaining agreement. Westgarth gives the Hurricanes the enforcer that they lack – last year’s penalty minutes leader, Bryan Allen, joined Anaheim in the offseason.

Stewart, meanwhile, was coming off a disappointing season in which he averaged just 8:07 in ice time and didn’t appear to be a fit with what the Hurricanes are trying to do under coach Kirk Muller. Considering his limited playing time, Stewart’s numbers – nine goals and 20 points in 77 games – weren’t bad. Stewart is a former first-rounder of the Florida Panthers (25th overall in 2003) and and now will get to play more games against his younger brother Cam, a power forward with the St. Louis Blues. In all, the 28-year-old Anthony Stewart has played in 262 career NHL games with the Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers and recorded 71 points (27-44=71) in that span.

The Hurricanes were busy otherwise busy shuffling the deck, signing Dan Ellis to a pro-rated one-year, $650,000 contract to back up starter Cam Ward. To make space for Ellis on the roster, the Hurricanes swapped back-up goalie Brian Boucher to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he will get a chance to play behind Ilya Bryzgalov. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Boucher, who previously played for the Flyers twice previously – between 1999 and 2002 and again between 2009 and 2011. Boucher was part of a tandem with Michael Leighton that helped the Flyers get to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

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