Canucks get goalie Noronen, send pick to Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Mika Noronen got his wish to escape the Buffalo Sabres' goaltender glut and was traded Thursday to the Vancouver Canucks, a team in need of an experienced backup.

In exchange, the Sabres received a second-round pick in the deal announced hours before the NHL's trade deadline.

Noronen became the odd man out behind starter Ryan Miller and backup Martin Biron and has played in only four games with the Sabres this season.

A five-year NHL veteran and Buffalo's first-round pick in the 1997 draft, Noronen has a career mark of 22-31-6 -- including 1-2 this season.

His best season came in 2003-04 when he went 11-17-2 and had a 2.57 goals-against average while splitting time with Biron.

The Canucks have been looking to bolster their goaltending since starter Dan Cloutier had surgery in December to repair a torn ligament in his left knee. It's unclear whether Cloutier will be ready to return for the playoffs.

Vancouver made several other deals Thursday to strengthen its
overall defense, acquiring defensemen Sean Brown, Keith Carney, and
Eric Weinrich in separate deals with New Jersey, Anaheim and St.

The Canucks sent defenseman Brett Skinner and a second-round
draft pick to the Mighty Ducks for Carney, shipped a fourth-round
pick to New Jersey for Brown, and packaged defenseman Tomas Mojzis
and a third-round pick to the Blues for Weinrich.

Vancouver also dealt away defenseman Steve McCarthy to Atlanta
for a fourth-round pick in 2007.

"The goal was to shore up our D and see if we could improve in
net," Canucks general manager Dave Nonis said. "On the back end,
we're going to get some bodies back but the timing is uncertain. We
felt we needed some character and strength on the back end."

Carney, Weinrich and Brown can all become unrestricted free
agents at the end of the season.

Alex Auld took over the bulk of the goaltending duties since
Cloutier was hurt and was scheduled to make his 16th straight start
against Nashville on Thursday. Maxim Ouellet is 0-2-1 in four
appearances since the Canucks acquired him from Washington in early

"I think it's great news for Mika because there's an
opportunity for him to play there," Noronen's agent, Jay Grossman,
told The Associated Press. "We're real pleased, because the Sabres
might have thought better to hold on to him. But I think they were
more than fair in giving him this opportunity."

Noronen leaves one playoff-contending team -- the Sabres stand
fourth in the Eastern Conference -- for another. Vancouver is tied
with Los Angeles for seventh in the West, but two points behind
Northwest Division-leading Calgary.

"We wanted to bring in someone to help Alex and that s what we
accomplished," Nonis said.

The Sabres were forced to carry three goalies because of NHL
waiver rules. They risked losing any one of the players without
compensation if they attempted to send someone to the minors.

Noronen accepted a two-game conditioning assignment with AHL
Rochester last week -- a move that did not require him to clear

He lost both starts, including a 3-2 overtime decision to
Milwaukee on Friday, allowing six goals on 59 shots.

Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier initially hoped to trade
one of his three goalies earlier this season, but that wasn't
possible because Miller missed six weeks with a broken thumb.