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Sabres deal Biron, add Zubrus, Helbling

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres were busy at the NHL
trade deadline, with the acquisition of forward Dainius Zubrus from
the Washington Capitals topping the three trades they completed
Tuesday.

The Sabres also dealt backup goalie Martin Biron to the
Philadelphia Flyers for a second-round pick. Buffalo then acquired
Columbus Blue Jackets' backup goalie Ty Conklin for a fifth-round
pick in this year's draft.

Dainius Zubrus Zubrus

Timo Helbling Helbling

In the deal for Zubrus, a consistent offensive forward, Buffalo
also landed prospect defenseman Timo Helbling. The Sabres dealt
rookie forward Jiri Novotny, who's ready to return from a high
ankle sprain, and a first-round pick to the Capitals.

Novotny, Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2001 draft, was
enjoying a solid first full NHL season. He had six goals and seven
assists for 13 points in 50 games. Novotny had missed the past
three games after aggravating an ankle injury.

The moves came as the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres prepare
for their playoff run by bolstering an injury-depleted lineup
that's missing eight regulars, including Tim Connolly, who had sat
out the entire season following a concussion.

Zubrus was the key acquisition for Buffalo. A 10-year NHL
veteran, he's third among Capitals scorers with 20 goals and 52
points -- five short of matching a career high set last season -- in
60 games.

Buffalo, which began the day at the $44 million NHL salary cap,
freed up room to acquire Zubrus by dealing Biron, who had been
seeking a trade since losing the No. 1 job to Ryan Miller early
last season.

Biron, who is making $2.1 million this season, proved expendable
because he is in the final year of his contract and eligible to
become an unrestricted free agent this summer.


"It's an opportunity for me to move forward," Biron said in a telephone interview with TSN of Canada. "They are excited for me to come in and I'm excited to be part of the organization. We've battled so much over the years. ... I pretty much know Philadelphia's history in the playoffs and all that. It's part of my history now."

Conklin was an inexpensive pickup as he is earning $525,000 this
season.

Acquiring Biron gives the NHL-worst Flyers three goalies. The
Flyers also claimed forward Denis Hamel off waivers from Atlanta.

Starting goalie Antero Niittymaki has nine wins in 47 games,
while Robert Esche -- once considered the future in goal after a
stellar postseason three years ago -- has played in only 18 games.
Esche can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"This is an opportunity for us to acquire a goaltender that we
really like," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. Noting
that Biron would have been on the team's shopping list this summer,
Holmgren added: "Trading for him gives us a chance to get a little
more familiar with him and he can get a little more familiar with
our team."

This was the second trade in two days for the Flyers, who
acquired defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and a third-round pick from
Chicago for forward Kyle Calder on Monday night. Calder was then
traded to Detroit.

Buffalo's first-round pick in the 1995 draft, Biron was the
Sabres' longest-serving player.

He has a 12-4-1 record and 3.04 goals-against average this
season. His career record is 134-115-25 with four overtime or
shootout losses, a 2.53 goals-against average and 18 shutouts.

Biron struggled in his last outing, allowing four goals before
being pulled in the second period in a 6-5 loss at Ottawa on
Saturday.

Conklin is a five-year veteran and career backup who was playing
in his first season with Columbus. He has a 2-3-2 record with a
3.30 goals-against average in 11 appearances.

He spent the previous four seasons with Edmonton, his best year
coming in 2003-04 when he went 17-14-4 with a 2.42 goals-against
average with the Oilers.

In making the move, Columbus also announced that it had acquired
goalie Brian Boucher off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.