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Tuesday, March 19
 
Poti joins Bure on new-look Rangers

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Tom Poti and forward Rem Murray from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday for forward Mike York and a fourth-round pick in this year's draft.

The Rangers continue their efforts to corner the market on puck-moving defensemen with the acquisition of Tom Poti, who joins fellow offensive-minded defensemen Brian Leetch, Bryan Berard and Vladimir Malakhov on the New York blue line.

Poti's offensive skills should help the Rangers power play which has struggled this season. And, Poti will take some of the pressure off Leetch.

While Poti has good size, he's not really a banger. And, some in Edmonton have questioned his competitive nature. It will be interesting to see who he's paired with in New York. By getting Poti, the Rangers kept him away from the Islanders and Bruins. He might have been more valuable to either of those teams, but they didn't have the bait to land him.

The Rangers also picked up beefy left winger Rem Murray, who'll help the strengthen the club's bottom six forwards and should see a lot of time on their up-to-now weak penalty killing unit. Right now, he might be a more valuable player for the defensively challenged Rangers.

The Oilers get Mike York, who's enjoyed a strong season, playing primarily with Eric Lindros and Theo Fleury. York is a solid citizen and versatile forward who makes those around him better.

He's also a very smart player, who rarely makes a mistake in his own end. His skating, offensive skill and inexpensive contract make him a nice fit in Edmonton.

In the end, the Rangers will miss York a lot more than the Oilers will miss Poti, who gained mythical status during the last several weeks. Now, it will be up to him to play up to those expectations. That's a burden, he doesn't need, especially in New York.

"It's always tough being traded," York said as he rushed to the airport for a flight to Edmonton. "But I have some friends up there. It's a great hockey city, so it'll be fun. But it's also shocking. I have good friends here, too."

York, who has 18 goals and 39 assists this season, was thought to be part of New York's trade with Florida for Pavel Bure. But that deal went through Monday with York still on the roster.

York, a 24-year-old U.S. Olympian, said he felt relieved as he skated with Bure at Tuesday's skate hours before the trade deadline.

"But there's always until 3 o'clock, and that's exactly when it was," York said.

Poti, who turns 25 on March 22, has had a disappointing season with one goal and 16 assists in 55 games. He has been booed regularly in Edmonton after holding out and missing nine games at the beginning of the season.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders to put all the rumors behind me," Poti said. "The fans never forgave me for holding out. I guess you're not allowed to do that."

Poti said he took the advice of his agent for holding out, but doesn't regret the decision at all. Still, the hometown crowd venom bothered him.

"I think it definitely had an effect on me," he said. "When you have people booing you, it's hard. When I had the puck, I'd get nervous. I played much better on the road where I didn't have to worry about fan reaction as much."

Rangers general manager Glen Sather said Poti was slated to go to either the Rangers or their rivals, the New York Islanders. Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe was deciding between the offers until the afternoon deadline.

"We talked for a long time about this deal," Sather said. "He could have just as easily gone to the Island. We didn't want to see that happen."

Sather explained he wouldn't "do anything to hurt the Islanders," but added, "I'd rather have (Poti) here than there."

The Islanders entered Tuesday sixth in the conference, while the Rangers were ninth, six points behind.

Poti, also a U.S. Olympian, knows Rangers Brian Leetch and Mike Richter from Salt Lake City. He's also a friend of New York defenseman Bryan Berard.

"It's definitely good to go to a team where you know some guys," Poti said, adding the Oilers are getting a good player in return. "Yorkie is an awesome player."

Sather didn't want to trade York, but felt the Rangers were needy.

"We had to do something with our defense, to shore it up," Sather said. "Poti is a very mobile guy, very effective guy moving the puck laterally. He makes the first move well, skating the puck out.

"I think he'll be one of the top players in the league," Sather added. "He certainly has the potential to."

The 29-year-old Murray has seven goals and 17 assists in 69 games this season.

In other moves, the Rangers acquired minor league defenseman Richard Lintner from Nashville for minor league defenseman Peter Smrek.

The Rangers also signed center Bobby Andrews, who played for the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

He will be assigned to Hartford of the AHL.

Andrews, 23, led the Nanooks in scoring this season, registering 14 goals and 23 assists in 37 games.




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