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Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Updated: December 17, 5:09 PM ET
First- and third-rounders go to Oilers

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The team with the best record in the NHL just got even better.

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to restricted free agent Mike Comrie from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday for former first-round pick Jeff Woywitka and two draft picks.

Philadelphia, which is tied with Toronto for the most points in the league, strengthened its lineup without depleting its current roster.

"This was an opportunity to get a player as good as Comrie and not take anyone off our team," Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said before Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary. "We think Woywitka is going to be a very good defenseman, but for us to get a highly skilled center now and for the future, it was the right move."

The Oilers will get a first-round pick in the 2004 entry draft and a third-round choice in the 2005 draft. Comrie has not played this season and will have to come to terms with the Flyers.

"We wouldn't have traded for him if we didn't think we could sign him," Clarke said.

Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe said Comrie's decision not to re-sign with Edmonton wasn't a financial one.

"Money wasn't the issue, and that was important to know," Lowe said. "In the past, players have moved on out of Edmonton because of money. The type of money we felt we should have to pay Mike Comrie we felt we could afford to pay."

The Oilers thought they had a deal last week to send Comrie to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, but it was held up by Lowe, who wanted Comrie to pay the club $2.5 million first.

Lowe and Ducks GM Bryan Murray agreed to the deal before Comrie's agent informed Murray of the extra stipulation.

"I wish that hadn't happened," Lowe said. "I wasn't trying to set a precedent. I wasn't trying to carve my niche in the hockey world. I was just trying to make a deal work for all parties involved."

The Oilers offered Comrie the minimum raise allowed entering this season, which he rejected. The Oilers would not negotiate, and Comrie asked to be traded.

In 69 games for the Oilers during the 2002-03 season, Comrie had 20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points. In 192 career NHL games over three seasons with Edmonton (2000-01 through 2002-03), Comrie has 61 goals and 72 assists for 133 points.

He set career highs for goals in a season (33), points in a season (60) and games played in a season (82) during the 2001-02 season. Comrie was selected by the Oilers out of Michigan in the third round of the 1999 entry draft.

"We believe that this really strengthens our club down the middle," Clarke said. "It gives us a very creative and quick centerman, and these types of players make the players around them better."

Woywitka, 20, had six assists in 29 games for the Flyers' AHL affiliate in Philadelphia this season. He was the 27th overall pick in the 2001 draft.

Woywitka initially will report to the Oilers' AHL farm team in Toronto.

"I want to go out there and I want to prove that I can play," he said. "I have to go there and really make a good impression and show it was a good trade for them."