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Islanders Trade Palffy to LA

June 21, 1999 GMT

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ After many attempts to cut star right wing Ziggy Palffy’s salary from its dwindling payroll, the New York Islanders were finally successful Sunday night, sending Palffy to the Los Angeles Kings as part of an eight-player trade.

In addition to Palffy, the Islanders sent center Bryan Smolinski, goaltender Marcel Cousineau and New Jersey’s fourth-round pick in the 1999 Entry Draft to the Kings. In return, New York gets center Olli Jokinen, left wing Josh Green, defenseman Mathieu Biron and the Kings’ first pick (eighth overall) in the upcoming Entry Draft.

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``We’re very pleased to be able to add this kind of offense to the team,″ Dave Taylor, the Kings’ senior vice-president and general manager said in a conference call in Los Angeles. ``I think L.A. is going to love him.″

Palffy, who was the Islanders’ leading scorer this past season with 22 goals and 28 assists in 50 games, was deemed expendable with a contract that has four more years and $24 million to be paid. He signed the contract last Dec. 17, and missed 32 games as a restricted free agent. In his last three full seasons, Palffy scored 136 goals.

``He’s a marquee player, one of the most exciting players in the game,″ Taylor said. ``Every time he touches the puck he does something exciting. He’s very creative.″

Taylor said the Kings had been talking with Palffy for at least a year, since the last contract dispute with the Islanders. He said the trade represent a $6 million increase in the Kings’ payroll.

``Management has given us a lot of support on this,″ he said. ``I don’t think there are many teams in the NHL that would be able to take on an additional $6 million in annual salary.″

The Islanders will have a news conference on Monday to discuss the trade.

Smolinski was a disappointment this past season with only 16 goals and 24 assists in 82 games. Cousineau saw action in six games and went 0-4-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average. The pick the Islanders traded away was acquired from the Devils in the deal this season for forward Sergei Nemchinov.

Jokinen, in his first full season with Los Angeles, had nine goals and 12 assists in 66 games. Biron played for Shawinigan in junior hockey. Both players were No. 1 draft pick of the Kings _ Jokinen, the third overall in 1997 and Biron No. 21 in 1998. Green played in 27 games for the Kings last season and had one goal and three assists.

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The trade was made after failed attempts to send Palffy and defenseman Rich Pilon to the New York Rangers for a package that included forwards Todd Harvey and Niklas Sundstrom. Islanders ownership effectively killed the deal by making extra financial demands of the Rangers after the league approved a $2.5 million cash exchange. That prompted NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to disallow any trade of Palffy that included cash. The league also monitored the trade to make sure the Islanders were getting at least one bona-fide NHL player in the deal.