- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

For the past three seasons, the trade deadline has meant moving veteran players for draft picks and prospects for the Washington Capitals.

Not this year.

The Caps on Tuesday were the NHL’s most active team, making a trio of trades to bolster their hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Washington acquired goaltender Cristobal Huet from Montreal for a second-round pick in 2009, forward Sergei Fedorov from Columbus for 2007 draft pick Theo Ruth and forward Matt Cooke from Vancouver for struggling forward Matt Pettinger.

“It was a surprise,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Anytime that we can make our team better, then we are going to make our team better.”

Huet is 21-12-6 this season with a 2.55 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. A native of France, Huet originally was drafted by Los Angeles and played for Boudreau for one season with Manchester of the American Hockey League.

“I’m very excited to join a young team like the Capitals and to have the chance to play with Ovechkin instead of facing him,” Huet told reporters in Montreal. “I’m a bit surprised by the trade but I had some thoughts about it yesterday when I found out that I would not be in the net versus the Thrashers. I had 3 great years in Montreal, a classy organization, great teammates, special relationship with the fans. I will miss that. I would have liked to finish the job in Montreal. I did not play well enough in the last few games.

“Washington will be a great new challenge for me,” Huet added. “I don’t know about their plans, if I will be use as a No. 1 goalie.”

  • In the Room: Keeping up with the Caps’ trades

    Audio: Caps GM George McPhee

    Audio: Caps coach Bruce Boudreau

    Added Boudreau: “I loved him in Manchester. He was a real big surprise. He played so well for me that in the last 30 games he was called up to L.A. Everybody was surprised that a goalie coming from France could do that kind of job. But he did and he has proven himself.”

    Fedorov was once one of the best players in the NHL, but his numbers have fallen off in recent seasons. The 38-year-old has nine goals and 28 points this season, and recently missed 13 games with a concussion.

    He could be the replacement for Michael Nylander as the team’s second-line center. That position has been a bit of a revolving door since Nylander was lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff.

    Cooke is a rugged 29-year-old forward who could help the Caps by going to the net and helping to create “dirty goals” — something that has been a struggle for the team for much of the season. He has seven goals and 16 points for the Canucks this year.

    Pettinger had scored 36 goals in the past two seasons, but has had all kinds of problems this season. He has only two goals and seven points, and has been a healthy scratch on several occasions. The 27-year-old Pettinger is a Victoria, British Columbia, native.

    “It has been a bit of a struggle this season personally and obviously everyone is tradeable,” Pettinger told TSN. “I was definitely listening to the Internet and following the trades. Going to Vancouver, there are 29 other teams in the league and it is very fortunate that a team like Vancouver with my connections there would want me. I am thrilled.”

    All three players the Caps acquired are in the final years of their current contracts and will be unrestricted free agents July 1. The second-round pick sent to Montreal is the one Washington picked up when the Caps traded Brian Sutherby to Anaheim earlier this season.

    Ruth, a 6-foot, 201-pund defenseman drafted 46th overall from the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program, has played 31 games this season for Notre Dame.

    A team spokesman said Huet is expected to arrive in the District tonight for a physical. Fedorov is expected in town tomorrow, while Cooke’s arrival could be delayed a few days because of visa issues. Being a Canadian-born player playing in Canada, he did not have a work visa like Huet does. His status for the Caps’ next game Friday night in New Jersey is still not certain.

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