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St. Louis basking in trade deadline glory

If you're looking for a winner in the trade deadline sweepstakes, look no further than the Blues.

Still smarting from last season's first-round playoff loss to the Sharks, St. Louis landed center Keith Tkachuk from the Coyotes for Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, the rights to top prospect Jeff Taffe and a first-round pick inthe 2001 or 2002 draft.

It also got left wing, and 20-goal scorer, Cory Stillman from Calgary for Craig Conroy and a seventh-round pick.

All the better to keep up with powerful Colorado, which picked up elite defenseman Rob Blake.

Yes, the Blues gave up some youth, but the team is trying to win now and is counting on the returns from injury of defensemen Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.

"We're giving up a lot, but we're getting an impact player," general manager Larry Pleau said. "You don't get good players unless you trade good players. We felt we're at the stage when we had some youth to move in the right package. We felt we could improve the team now and in the future."

Tkachuk fits into that nicely.

He is just 28. He weighs 225 pounds, crashes the net and was a real leader when he captained the Coyotes.

Okay, so he makes $8.3-million. The Blues now have a top line of playmaker Pierre Turgeon, skating between Tkachuk and Scott Young.

"Am I the luckiest guy in the world or what?" said Tkachuk, who had 29 goals, 42 assists in 65 games heading into Saturday's games. "This is the greatest thing that could happen to me."

Stillman is a good upgrade offensively over Conroy, whose career high is 14 goals. Stillman's is 27.

"We feel we can compete with anybody," Pleau said.

Other winners and losers after Tuesday's trade deadline:

WINNER: The Capitals. They added experience with Trevor Linden, whom they got from the Canadiens. Linden captained the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup final.

LOSER: The Flames. For all the talk about shaking up a team that has been a huge disappointment (and one that needs to keep its season-ticket holders happy or possibly face relocation), Calgary went backward, getting a defensive center (Conroy) for Stillman. General manager Craig Button couldn't unload the high-priced contracts of Phil Housley and Mike Vernon, or get rid of head case Valeri Bure.

WINNER: The Senators. They got center Mike Sillinger, underrated and undervalued by the Panthers, who offered a laughable $1.5-million a year to re-sign him. They also got defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn from the Wild.

Sillinger is one of the league's best faceoff men and was a quality person in the Florida dressing room. Leschyshyn will add depth on the back line. Sillinger left throwing darts at the Panthers.

"It almost seems like, as far as direction, no one knows what they're doing," he said. "Well, other than ditching salaries and cutting payroll."

LOSER: The Flyers. They couldn't get rid of Eric Lindros. They couldn't get Tkachuk. Who knows when, or if, John LeClair will come back. Dean McAmmond? Matthew Herr? Big deal.

WINNER: The Avalanche. It got Blake from the Kings. Need we say more?

LOSER: The Canadiens. Patrick Traverse for Eric Weinrich?

WINNER: The Devils. Like New Jersey isn't strong enough, now it has defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

LOSER: The Stars, who made a failed attempt to get Buffalo's Michael Peca, came up with defenseman Grant Ledyard from the Lightning. He'll provide some depth, but when your Western Conference rivals are getting Tkachuk and Blake, it's not enough.

WINNER: The Sabres. Buffalo got feisty forwards Donald Audette from Atlanta and Steve Heinze from Columbus.

LOSERS: Lindros and Peca, unsigned, restricted free agents, will sit out the rest of the season. Lindros orchestrated his own demise by demanding the Flyers trade him to the Maple Leafs until it was too late to realistically deal with anyone else. Peca is not worth the $3.5-million he wants.

"They had no intention of trading me all along," Peca said. "The last 2{ weeks, when they said they were looking for offers, it was all window dressing."

WINNER: The Maple Leafs for not getting Lindros.

WE'LL SEE: The Kings, who have been hot since trading Blake. The Coyotes, who cut payroll by getting rid of Tkachuk, but got little in return from the Lightning for the rights to goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. The Lightning, who needs to make sure Khabibulin still has it but may have found a gem in defenseman Stan Neckar. The Sharks, who expect a lot from Teemu Selanne.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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