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Players making quick impact for new teams, Blues included

11:30 AM, Apr 10, 2013   |    comments
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Kevin Allen  / @ByKevinAllen
USA TODAY Sports
 
The Columbus Blue Jackets' acquisition of Marian Gaborik on trade deadline day was about raising the threat level of their offense.
Gaborik has done exactly that, producing 10 shots, a game-winning goal and two assists in his first three games.

"He's a threat," said Blue Jackets president John Davidson.
Even when Gaborik doesn't score, the theory is that he still makes it easier for his teammates to score because the opponent's top defenseman is always assigned to deal with Gaborik and his exceptional speed.

"We are trying to figure this out long-term and it seems to be all falling into place," Davidson said.

The acquisition of Gaborik and his $7.5 million contract sent a message to the team and to the fan base that Davidson's regime plans to compete for the playoffs while they renovate the roster.

"The fan reaction has been great," Davidson said. "... the fans here are excited, but I think they were excited about our team. It's an honest team, with a good dressing room and good coaching. They've come a long way."

It will be an uphill fight for Gaborik to get the Blue Jackets into the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

"This whole thing has been good for us as a team because these games are like playoff games," Davidson said. "If we would have been completely out of this a month ago, it would not have been beneficial for our team."

Here are other late-season acquisitions that are having instant impacts on their teams:

1. Jay Bouwmeester (St. Louis@): The Blues have won all three games since Bouwmeester joined their lineup and have given up only four goals. Bouwmeester has averaged 23-plus minutes per game, while posting three assists and a plus-minus of plus-2.

The Blues also added Jordan Leopold to their defense, meaning they have a significant new look on the blue line.  "Both of those guys help us so much because they skate us out of trouble," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

2. Jaromir Jagr (Boston@): With a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating in three games, the 240-pound Jagr has brought a new dimension to the Bruins' offense.  Defenses are drawn to him, and he opens up the ice for teammates. It's like the Bruins have added a tank to their infantry.

3. Jason Pominville (Minnesota@): In his second game for Minnesota, the Wild won 3-0 against Columbus and Pominville had a goal and an assist. That's pretty much what he does.  He's a proven scorer who came to a team that didn't have enough proven scorers. With Dany Heatley out indefinitely with an injury, Pominville's acquisition was even more important.

4. Raffi Torres (San Jose): Although Torres wasn't one of the high profile players moved on trade deadline day, he seems to have done plenty to change the look of the Sharks.  "They are playing a faster game," said NBC analyst Ed Olczyk, a former NHL player and coach. "Just a couple of subtle moves by (general manager) Doug Wilson subtly changed that team. They seem faster and harder to play against."

Torres can skate, and he will serve as an irritating presence up front. Wilson also added defenseman Scott Hannan.

5. Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay): In his first game in a Lightning jersey, goalie Bishop posted a 45-save shutout. He owns a .945 save percentage over his first three games.  He has already established that he could be the Lightning's long-term answer in net.

6.  Ryane Clowe (New York Rangers):After going 28 games without a goal in San Jose, Clowe owns two goals and two assists in four games for the Rangers.

Having his 225 pounds of grit on the wing also gives the Rangers a more menacing look.

7. Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh): In his first game with the Penguins, he scored his team's only regulation goal and the game-winning shootout tally in a 2-1 win against the Rangers.   With the number of injuries the Penguins have, Jokinen could be a valuable depth addition.

8. Derek Roy (Vancouver): Roy only has one assist in three games, but it's apparent that Roy will help the team improve puck possession.
Depending upon how the lines shake out now that Ryan Kesler is healthy, Roy could end up as one of the league's most skillful third-line centers.

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