TAMPA — Veteran defenseman Eric Brewer spent the past couple of weeks as a spectator, a healthy scratch in four of the past five games.
It was a tough situation for the 35-year-old, who acted like a pro despite his disappointment.
"I don't think I handled it that well, to be honest," Brewer said Friday.
But it wasn't going to get easier to crack the lineup, especially with Victor Hedman returning, possibly tonight against the Senators.
So Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman reached out to him a few days ago, and Brewer said they had a "very open" conversation.
"He wanted to play," Yzerman said.
Brewer might get that chance. He was traded to the Ducks on Friday for a third-round draft pick in 2015. Yzerman said Brewer didn't ask to be dealt but was willing to waive his no-trade clause, with a number of teams from which Tampa Bay could choose.
The trade gives Brewer, in the final year of his contract, a fresh start and creates a roster spot the Lightning needed for Hedman. Yzerman called it a deal that worked out for both parties.
"I'm very excited," Brewer said before boarding a flight to meet the Ducks in San Jose for a game tonight. "My feeling is I want to play. I feel good. I have games to offer. Clearly with the way (the Lightning) is going, the way it's been working out lately, it wasn't going to be the best option."
The Lightning could have opened a roster spot by sending Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette or Nikita Kucherov to AHL Syracuse because none of them requires waivers. But they deserve to stay. Plus, the trade gives the Lightning cap flexibility, though it will retain 26 percent of Brewer's $3.875 million cap hit.
The deal also adds to Tampa Bay's large supply of 2015 draft picks. It now has two in the first, third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. The Ducks' third-rounder the Lightning got is Edmonton's pick, so it should be early in the third round and help make up for not having a second-rounder.
Brewer was in his fifth year with Tampa Bay, and he played a big role in its run to the Eastern Conference final in 2011 after getting acquired from the Blues. He was an alternate captain last season.
But after the Lightning acquired left-shooting defenseman Jason Garrison from Vancouver in June and signed defenseman Anton Stralman in July, Brewer became an odd-man out, a healthy scratch the first two games of the season. He played 16 straight after Hedman fractured a finger Oct. 18, but he had been out lately because the Lightning wanted to use Mark Barberio, 24, who played his best game of the season Wednesday against the Rangers.
Associate coach Rick Bowness said sitting was "eating (Brewer) up inside," but he didn't complain, just did his job.
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"I think we agree to disagree on the situation," Brewer said. "That's the team's choice. It's up to me to make it easier for them to make a decision (to play me)."
Brewer should get an opportunity with Anaheim, which entered Friday in first place in the Western Conference. The Ducks announced Friday that defenseman Francois Beauchemin will be out four to six weeks with a broken finger, and defenseman Clayton Stoner was put on injured reserve with the mumps. Brewer joins fellow former Lightning alternate captain Nate Thompson, who was traded to the Ducks in June.
"He worked hard every day, kept a stiff upper lip, stayed positive and played well when he was in," Yzerman said of Brewer. "It's not easy on those guys. They're proud guys. They want to play. They're confident. It's a hard thing for them to deal with, and he was very professional about it and handled it as good as you can."
Yzerman said the Lightning could look into adding another defenseman down the line or "maybe even something bigger."
Brewer said he enjoyed his time in Tampa overall. "It's been a good opportunity to play and live in an area that we never thought we would," said Brewer, who is married and has children. "It's been good to be a part of a team that's trending in the right direction. I'm disappointed I won't be a part of it."