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The Buffalo Sabres traded disgruntled forward Matthew Barnaby to Pittsburgh for Stu Barnes on Thursday night, ending months of speculation about Barnaby's fate.

Barnaby asked for a trade last year, but then led the team into the Stanley Cup semifinals with 13 points in the playoffs after the Sabres talked him into staying.

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  • Barnes, who scored 30 goals and 65 points in his best season last year, will join his fourth team in his eighth season in the NHL. The 28-year-old center has 20 goals and 12 assists in 64 games this season, and a plus-minus rating of minus-12. He was tied for third in the league with 15 power-play goals last year.

    "I'm looking forward to coming to Buffalo," said Barnes, who added that he planned to be at the Sabres' practice Friday morning.

    Barnes' 13 power-play goals this season made him especially attractive to the offense-hungry Sabres, who went 0-for-6 on the power play in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

    "Certainly he's going to bring offense," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said. "He has very good play-making skills and we think he's going to help us in a lot of areas."

    Barnaby, unhappy since the departure of former coach Ted Nolan in the summer of 1997, led the team in playoff goals last season after asking to be traded. This year, he was back in the trade mix.

    "All of a sudden I was losing fans and friends, and I never want to be known like that, and it will never happen again," Barnaby said.

    Barnaby asked to be traded last year just before the deadline, but a deal was never made. Barnaby had seven goals in 15 playoff gams last season after having just five in 72 games during the regular season.

    "It's been a long time coming," Barnaby said. "It's time for a change. Relief I guess would be the word. It got to the point where the only time I felt happy was when I heard my name in trade rumors, and that's not right."

    The Sabres saw the trade as necessary as much to shake things up as to unload Barnaby.

    "I felt that we neeed to make a change, whether it was minor or not, quite a while ago," Regier said.

    "Just being happy is what I want to be," Barnaby said.

    Rob Ray was happy for his friend.

    "In a way I'm mad that he won't be a member of our team, but I'm also happy that it's over for him," he said. "He can put everything behind him and concentrate on hockey again."

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