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Wild deal pick for defenseman

By Michael Russo

Star Tribune

ST. PAUL — Call it Kurtis Foster insurance or simply added depth to a blue line that’s letting go of Keith Carney, Sean Hill and Petteri Nummelin, but the Wild made its first offseason move Tuesday when it traded a third-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for sharp-shooting defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Bergeron, a routine winner of the Oilers’ hardest-shot competition during his three-plus seasons in Edmonton, has scored 38 goals the past three seasons, ninth-most among NHL defensemen during that span.

At 27, Bergeron has bounced around, playing with Edmonton, the New York Islanders and Anaheim the past two seasons. At 5-10 and 197 pounds, he’s not overly physical and has been prone to defensive blunders (a minus-16 plus-minus rating last season).

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But he’s a power-play specialist who could be valuable if the Wild can’t re-sign Brian Rolston or if Foster, who likely won’t be ready by the start of the season because of a broken femur, is out long.

In 2005-06, Bergeron scored a career-high 15 goals. In 2006-07, he had a career-high 46 points.

When traded to Anaheim in February after being in and out of the Islanders lineup, Bergeron had eight power-play goals in 46 games, a total that was tied for the NHL lead with Anaheim’s Chris Pronger, Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf and Detroit’s Brian Rafalski.

"When we look at the shot totals from our defense last year, we’re not high enough," Wild general manager Doug Risebrough said. "But we’re not looking at him as just a power-play specialist. He can still do other things. (Coach) Jacques (Lemaire) wants to play everybody a lot of minutes, so we think he can play minutes. I liked his competitiveness when he was in Edmonton."

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