NEW YORK -- With the New York Rangers fighting for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, general manager Glen Sather thought it was time to make a change.
Sather traded defenseman Fedor Tyutin and a 2nd round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Paul Mara and then dealt Thomas Pock to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Joni Pitkanen.
"We wanted a little bit of a different look on defense," Sather said. "We're fighting to make the playoffs and these guys give us a great chance to do that."
Pitkanen, 26, is in the last year of a three-year contract paying him $3.89 million this season. The Finland native has 15 goals and 37 points while racking up 120 hits and a plus-2 defensive rating.
"It's a bit of a unique situation going from one team fighting for a playoff spot to another," Pitkanen said. "But, New York's got a good team and I'm happy to go there."
As for Pock, the 29-year-old Austrian has got one more season at $3.89 million for the Capitals in 2010-11. Pock's numbers are comparable to Pitkanen, with 11 goals, 36 points and a plus-9 defensive rating.
"I look at this as a change-of-scenery deal," said ESPN.com analyst Scott Burnside. "Same salary, comparable stats, hopefully this wasn't a trade for the sake of making a trade."
In acquiring Mara, New York gets a defender with size (6-3, 213) and solid two-way ability. Mara, 31, had an impressive 14 goals and 39 points in 61 games with the Oilers and his plus-19 defensive rating is tied for 12th in the league.
"Paul can do so many things," Sather said. "And he's signed long-term, which is a bonus."
Mara is in the first year of a four-year, $18.4 million contract that is paying him $4.63 million this season. He had a career-high 50 points (11G 39A) with Edmonton in 2007-08, but put up only 36 points (14G 22A) and was a minus-9 last season.
"I'm kinda surprised at the trade, but excited to be playing in Madison Square Garden," Mara said. "I hope to help this team make the playoffs."
In Tyutin, Edmonton gets younger on a blueline with three players age 34 and older among the Oilers' top six. Only 26, the Russian defenseman has three goals and 20 points with a plus-5 in 61 games. He is also signed for two more seasons at $4.63 million each.
"Change can be good," Tyutin said. "Hopefully things will work out."
New York is in a precarious position, holding on to the eighth and the final playoff spot thanks to the goals scored tiebreaker. The Rangers and ninth-place Washington have identical 34-23-4 records and 72 points, but New York has scored 37 more goals.
New York and Washington's situation is only part of a logjam at the bottom of the conference. Just two points separate fifth place New Jersey (74 points) with the ninth place Panthers.
"Every point is crucial," Sather said. "The Olympics will give coaching staffs chance to adjust a little bit."