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Hitmen get bigger in back, acquire Mercer and Gillen at WHL trade deadline

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Canadian Press
Jan 10, 2007, 6:44 PM EST

(CP) - The Calgary Hitmen used Wednesday's Western Hockey League trade deadline to add some serious bulk to their blue-line.

The Hitmen acquired towering defencemen Dan Mercer and Ryan Gillen in separate deals as they cling to a playoff spot in the Central Division. Calgary (24-15-0-3) entered play Wednesday in a tie for third place in the division, four points ahead of Lethbridge.

Calgary snagged Mercer from Spokane for blue-liner Curtis Kelner. Mercer had one goal and 13 assists in 38 games with the Chiefs.

Gillen was picked up from Tri-City for a seventh-round draft pick in 2008.

Gillen and Mercer are both six foot seven and should shore up a Hitmen defence that has already allowed the third-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.

"The addition of both Mercer and Gillen adds some grit and physical presence to our back end," said Hitmen general manager Kelly Kisio.

Calgary also shipped defenceman Michael Hengen to Moose Jaw for a fifth-round pick in 2007.

In other deadline-day deals:

-Vancouver picked up defenceman A.J. Thelan from Prince Albert for defencemen John Flatters and Nathan Deck;

-Seattle acquired forward Andre Herman from Moose Jaw for a fifth-rounder in 2007;

-Kelowna sent forward Craig Cuthbert to Saskatoon for a 2008 fourth-round pick.

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