With the Alaska Aces' season-opening ECHL game approaching Friday, coach Rob Murray felt good about his goaltending and his forwards, but was concerned about lack of depth at defense.
The hockey club's roster featured five defensemen, one shy of the number that usually dress for a game.
Murray moved to shore up that shortcoming Tuesday, when he acquired well-traveled defenseman Steve Tarasuk from Norfolk for undisclosed cash. Tarasuk will join the Aces in Colorado, where they open the season Friday night in the first of a two-game series against the Eagles (2-0-0).
"He's an offensive defenseman, but I think he can play an all-around game," Murray said.
The Aces released forward John Lidgett to clear a roster spot for Tarasuk's arrival.
Tarasuk, 26, in in his seventh pro season, and he brings experience to a group of blueliners very inexperienced in pro hockey. Tarasuk has played 306 regular-season pro games — 237 of them in the ECHL — and Alaska's other five defensemen have played a combined total of 82 pro games.
The Aces found themselves in a bind on defense, in part, because captain William Wrenn of Anchorage, a second-team All-ECHL defenseman for them last season, remains up with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Wrenn did not play in Toronto's first two games.
The Aces will be Tarasuk's 14th team in his seven pro seasons.
Tarasuk has made the rounds in the ECHL, playing for Utah, Kalamazoo, Ontario, Idaho, San Francisco, Missouri, Brampton, Allen and Norfolk. He also has played professionally in Germany, Italy and Poland, and long ago played three games for Bridgeport in the AHL.
Tarasuk's best North American campaign came in 2011-12, when he delivered 8-29—37 totals in 70 combined ECHL games with Ontario and Idaho.