Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals takes a face-off against… (Greg Fiume / Getty Images )
With all that's going right for the Ducks these days, they moved Friday to land a player who can buttress their standing by acquiring forward David Steckel from the Toronto Maple Leafs for minor leaguer Ryan Lasch and a seventh-round draft pick in 2014.
For a low price, the Ducks (20-3-3) gained a face-off specialist and type of veteran player contending teams typically pursue near the trade deadline (April 3 this season).
The Ducks, who have won five straight going into Saturday's road-trip finale at St. Louis, demoted left wing Patrick Maroon to minor-league Norfolk to make roster room for Steckel.
Goaltender Viktor Fasth also was declared fit to play after suffering an upper-body injury this week. The team moved goalie Jeff Deslauriers back to the minors.
Steckel has a long history with Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, dating to Manchester, N.H., in 2004-05. He also played two years for Boudreau with the AHL's Hershey Bears and gained full-time employment when Boudreau was elevated to his first NHL job, coaching the Washington Capitals.
Steckel played for the Capitals until the 2010-11 season, gaining his single biggest claim to notoriety — causing Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby to suffer a concussion in the Winter Classic.
Steckel was eventually shipped to the New Jersey Devils and then flipped to the Maple Leafs in October 2011. The man who pulled the trigger on that deal, former Leafs general manager Brian Burke, is now acting as a consultant to Ducks General Manager Bob Murray.
Steckel played sparingly for the Leafs this season, getting into just 13 games for Coach Randy Carlyle and averaging just 7:04 of ice time per night. He was a healthy scratch 14 other times. Steckel wasn't up to his usual average in the face-off circle with the Leafs — going just 38 for 81, or 46.9% — but historically he is among the league leaders in that category.
Last year, Steckel was sixth overall in NHL face-off percentage (58%), and in the three previous years he was first, second and fifth overall.
"He really does fit in with us," Boudreau said. "With Nick Bonino going down with an injury, we've been pretty thin at center … big players who can do little things are invaluable … really smart player and can really help us."
That asset arrives as the Ducks continue their uncanny comeback habit, their last victory over Dallas in a shootout the 13th come-from-behind victory of the season and 11th after giving up the game's first goal. That is an NHL first through 26 games since 1987-88.
AT ST. LOUIS
When: 5 PDT.
Where: Scottrade Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Record vs. Blues: 2-0.
Etc. The Blues rank third in the NHL on the power play, and right wing Chris Stewart leads St. Louis, which averages three goals per game, with 13 goals.