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Monday, February 9, 2004
Flyers get fifth-round pick in return news services

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The St. Louis Blues acquired veteran defenseman Eric Weinrich from the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday in a move aimed at helping to fill the void caused by season-ending injuries to two key defensemen.

In exchange, the Flyers will get a fifth-round pick in the 2004 draft.

 Eric Weinrich

Weinrich, a 16-year veteran in his third season with the Flyers, had two goals and seven assists in 54 games this season. He had 32 penalty minutes and was tied for fourth on the Flyers with a plus-11 rating.

"I'm a little bit shocked, but I had a great time here," Weinrich said.

Weinrich, 37, has 67 career goals and 294 assists in 1,056 games. He is expected to join the Blues when they host Colorado on Thursday.

The Blues have lost two of their top three defensemen for the season with injuries to Al MacInnis and Barret Jackman. After a strong start, the Blues have won only six of their last 25 games and are struggling to earn their 25th consecutive playoff berth.

Weinrich was made expendable with a glut of defensemen in Philadelphia, including the injured Jim Vandermeer, Dennis Seidenberg and Eric Desjardins.

The Flyers have added Mattias Timander and Danny Markov in trades during the last month.

Philadelphia expects Desjardins, out with a broken right forearm, back in four to six weeks. Seidenberg will miss another two months with a broken left leg, and Vandermeer has been out with a separated right shoulder, but has been cleared to play.

"We're able to get by with the guys we have," assistant general manager Paul Holmgren said. reported Sunday that the Flyers are close to a deal that would involve sending Mike Comrie to Phoenix for goalie Sean Burke. Holmgren said Monday that nothing was imminent.

"I think anybody would like to have a guy like Burke," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said after Monday's practice. "Our situation is more magnified."

The Flyers are in need of help in goal with Jeff Hackett sidelined with vertigo, and Robert Esche out with a sprained left knee.

Hackett was not at practice Monday and Hitchcock said the veteran goalie's career was "up in the air." Hitchcock also said Esche was feeling better and could be back sooner than the three weeks he was expected to miss.

The Flyers are 2-0 with 23-year-old rookie goalie Antero Niittymaki, who will likely start Tuesday against New Jersey.

"As well as Niittymaki's played, it's a little bit unfair to say, 'Guess what, you're carrying the ball for a month,' " Hitchcock said.

Comrie was acquired in December from Edmonton, where he was sitting out because of a bitter contract dispute. Comrie said he was trying to not become distracted by the trade talks.

"That's part of being a professional, not worrying about everything else," he said. "The thing I'm focusing on is playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. What happens, happens."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.