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Saturday, March 16
Kings give up Karalahti, 2003 choice for Ronning

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired 15-year veteran Cliff Ronning from Nashville on Saturday for defenseman Jere Karalahti and a conditional choice in the 2003 draft.

Cliff Ronning

Ronning is expected to join his new teammates Sunday before the team leaves for the game Monday night in San Jose.

"He'll be a leader, and I'm sure he'll be a welcomed addition to our team. He puts the puck in the net," Jason Allison, the Kings' leading point-scorer, said.

Ronning, 36, was the Predators' leading scorer this season with 18 goals and 49 points. He has 279 goals and 513 assists in 1,003 NHL games and helped lead Vancouver to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals.

The Kings are hope Ronning can contribute to the offense, weakened by goal-scoring droughts by forwards Steve Heinze and Bryan Smolinski.

"He'll certainly play an offensive role for us, because that's the type of player he is," coach Andy Murray said. "He's another left-handed shot, which we could use, and he can play center or wing. He'll be slotted among our top six forwards, and we'll give him the opportunity to do what he does best."

Kings general manager Dave Taylor was pleased to get another forward of Ronning's caliber.

"We've liked Cliff for a long time. I've talked to (Nashville general manager) David Poile about him over the last couple of years, but he's never really been available," Taylor said. "But the last couple of weeks, we had more discussions and were able to work out a deal that made sense to both teams.

"He's a very competitive player and he's been very consistent creating offense with all the teams he's been with," Taylor added. "We think he can help us generate more offense, which we feel is one of our needs down the stretch."

Karalahti, a healthy scratch in the Kings' last seven games, was a minus-5 in 30 games this season.

The trade came three days after Nashville dealt captain Tom Fitzgerald to Chicago. Poile said that trading Ronning enabled the Predators to pick up a physical defenseman with some offensive skills.

"In order to acquire a quality player, particularly a defenseman, you have to be willing to part with a quality player," Poile said. "This move will improve our defense considerably."

The announcement of the trade was made late in the third period of the Kings' 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday. Murray found out about it when he returned to the dressing room after the victory and saw a goodbye message scribbled by Karalahti on the board where Murray diagrams his plays.

"I really like Jere Karalahti's great personality. He's just a good guy to have around," Murray said. "He had to catch a plane to Nashville, but he wrote a real nice message to the team.

"It's tough to lose a player like that, but we had eight defensemen. And I think it's only fair to Jere that we allow him to go to a place where he'll get a chance to play, because he's definitely a good NHL defenseman."

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