Leafs acquire Lupul and Gardiner from Ducks

Leafs defenceman Francois Beauchemin was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul, prospective defenceman Jake Gardiner, and a conditional fourth round draft pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

Anaheim looked to find a solid defenceman in time to make the playoffs in their competitive conference. The 30-year-old Sorel, Québec native was excited when he heard about the trade. Beauchemin won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim back in 2007 and is glad to be returning to the team.

Beauchemin had a limited no-trade clause and was obligated at the beginning of the season to provide GM Brian Burke with a list of a dozen teams he would be willing to be traded to. Anaheim was his top choice.

In his press conference, Burke thanked Beauchemin for his time as a Leaf and complemented his character and integrity. He wished Beauchemin and the Ducks well. Ron Wilson also commented on Beauchemin’s leadership skills and said that his minutes will be hard to replace. However, Wilson is excited about the offensive prospect that Lupul brings to the team.

Beauchemin was signed to Toronto as a free agent in 2009. He had two goals and 10 assists in 54 games this season with the Leafs. Originally selected 75th overall by the Montréal Canadiens in 1998, he has 27 goals and 99 assists in 373 NHL games. Beauchemin has played for the Canadiens, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Ducks, and the Leafs.

The main player that Toronto got in exchange for Francois Beauchemin was Joffrey Lupul. The 27-year-old right winger missed 24 games earlier this season due to a back surgery and a blood infection. He is currently taking antibiotics, but has been cleared by doctors to play. Lupul had five goals and eight assists in 26 games this season with the Ducks.

After getting over the initial shock of being traded, the Fort Saskatchewan native looks forward to playing in the hockey hotbed that is Toronto. When talking to The Canadian Press, Lupul mentioned that he wants to help bring Toronto into the playoffs and that he’s looking to get his game back to the level it was before his surgery. He’s excited about what he can bring to the team, and he’s looking to prove himself.

Lupul wasn’t happy with the amount of playing time he was getting in Anaheim. He wasn’t sure if the decreased time was due to his injury or something else.

The deal for Lupul was three weeks in the making, according to Brian Burke. During his press conference, Burke indicated that Lupul will have a large role to play on the Leafs’ roster, and Lupul confirmed during his own press conference that he will play as a top six forward.

Lupul was a first round, seventh overall pick by the Ducks in the 2002 entry draft. He has had 117 goals and 121 assists in 421 games as well as 246 penalty minutes split between the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, and Philadelphia Flyers.

Lupul played on the Medicine Hat Tigers team with fellow Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur in 2002-03 in the WHL. Ron Wilson indicated in his press conference that he will pair Lupul up with MacArthur and Bozak. That indeed took place in Lupul’s debut game against the New Jersey Devils. Lupul didn’t impress anyone too much in his first game, fanning on a set-up by MacArthur in a crucial moment in the game, but Lupul had just arrived in Toronto and hadn’t even had time to practice with his new team before that game. Chemistry will take time to build.

Jake Gardiner was the other player acquired in the trade with Anaheim. The 20-year-old Minnesota native was among the Ducks’ top defensive prospects.

Gardiner currently plays for the University of Wisconsin where he has seven goals and 23 assists in 30 games so far this season, for a total of 30 points. In his first year with Wisconsin, Gardiner played with NHL rookies Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and Jamie McBain.

Gardiner is projected as a top four defenceman. Burke stated in his press conference that Gardiner will finish the season with Wisconsin and then the management will look to see what they will do from there.

Gardiner was drafted in the first round, 17th overall by the Ducks in the 2008 entry draft by Brian Burke himself, so Burke knows quite a lot about the young player.

Finally, the Leafs were given a fourth round conditional draft pick. The condition on the pick is that Lupul must be on the Leafs’ roster for at least 40 games during the 2012-13 season. If he isn’t, the Leafs will get Anaheim’s sixth round draft pick instead.

Burke ended off his press conference by saying that he expects to make more moves before the deadline and that he hopes to have them done well in advance of the deadline. A minor move he made was to place John Mitchell on waivers earlier on Wednesday. This gave him the room to bring backup Keith Aulie. Aulie will be replacing Beauchemin for what is expected to be the long term.

So the Leafs have pulled off an important trade this season and hopefully gained some scoring power. Time will tell if Joffrey Lupul can take the pressure of playing in a media-intensive Toronto. But until then, welcome to Toronto, Mr. Lupul.

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