In this Sept. 24, 2008, file photo, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Dany Sabourin (30) has Toronto Maple Leafs' Tim Stapleton (42) slide into him in the goal crease during the first period of a NHL pre-season hockey game in Pittsburgh. The Atlanta Thrashers announced Wednesday night, July 1, 2009,they have traded defenseman Garnet Exelby and forward Colin Stuart to the Maple Leafs for Pavel Kubina and forward Stapleton. (AP)
ATLANTA - The Atlanta Thrashers found help for their porous defense, acquiring defenseman Pavel Kubina from Toronto in a four-player trade Wednesday night.
The Thrashers traded defenseman Garnet Exelby and forward Colin Stuart to the Maple Leafs for Kubina, a former All-Star, and forward Tim Stapleton.
The Thrashers gave up 280 goals last season, the second-highest figure in the NHL, behind Toronto’s 293.
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said the 32-year-old Kubina will give Atlanta one of its strongest defensive lines.
“I feel it’s one of the best groups of top four defensemen we’ve probably ever had here in the history of the Thrashers,” Waddell said, referring to Kubina, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey.
Kubina matched his career high with 40 points for Toronto last season. He had 14 goals and 26 assists.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Kubina, a 2004 All-Star, will add size and experience to the Thrashers.
In this March 16, 2009, file photo, Atlanta Thrashers left wing Colin Stuart, left, skates against Washington Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier (2) as they battle for the puck during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Philips Arena, in Atlanta. The Thrashers won 5-1. The Thrashers announced Wednesday night, July 1, 2009,they have traded defenseman Garnet Exelby and forward to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Pavel Kubina and forward Tim Stapleton. (AP)
Kubina helped Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup in 2004 and has appeared in 38 playoff games.
Kubina, a native of Celadna, Czech Republic, represented his country in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.
Stapleton scored one goal in four games with the Maple Leafs last season.
Exelby had seven assists in 59 games last season.
Waddell said it was painful to trade Exelby, a 1999 Atlanta draft pick who appeared in more games than any defenseman in team history.
“It’s disappointing to have to trade one of your favorite players,” said Waddell, who said Exelby “did everything we ever asked of him.”
Stuart had five goals and three assists in 33 games.
“Stuart started coming into his own last year and was a good player for us, but when you make a deal and when you get a good player back, you have to give something up,” Waddell said.