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Heat land high-scoring centre Locke in exchange for Cundari
The Abbotsford Heat swung a major trade with the Chicago Wolves on Thursday afternoon, acquiring former AHL MVP Corey Locke in exchange for defenceman Mark Cundari.
The deal is indicative of the Heat's need for forward depth – they've been decimated by injury (Michael Ferland), NHL recall (Ben Street, Paul Byron) and retirement (Steve Begin) in recent weeks, and have had two ECHL call-ups in the lineup (Jordan Kremyr and Evan Trupp) in each of their last three games.
In Locke, a 29-year-old 5'9" centre from Toronto, the Heat have a top offensive playmaker. He's posted six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 36 games with the Wolves this season, but had averaged better than a point per game each of the previous four campaigns. He was voted the AHL's MVP in 2010-11, when he racked up a league-leading 86 points in 69 games with the Binghamton Senators.
Cundari had been playing his best hockey of the season of late, but the Heat could afford to part with him due to their relative depth on defence. Veteran point-producer Derek Smith was sent down by the Calgary Flames last Sunday, and he's joined on the blue line by six other healthy D, including AHL all-star Chad Billins, Chris Breen, Brady Lamb and captain Dean Arsene, and rookies Tyler Wotherspoon and John Ramage.
Cundari is on a two-way NHL/AHL contract, and his rights will be retained by the Calgary Flames. He's being loaned to the Wolves.
The Heat host the Utica Comets, the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate, on Friday and Saturday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (7 p.m. both nights).