Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Kings beef up defense with Jack Johnson

AFP , LOS ANGELES

The Los Angeles Kings bolstered their thin blueline by acquiring two-time Stanley Cup winner Oleg Tverdovsky and rugged US prospect Jack Johnson from the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi gave up journeyman center Eric Belanger and defenseman Tim Gleason in a trade on Friday that focussed on landing Johnson, the third overall pick in last year's National Hockey League entry draft.

"We felt the opportunity to acquire Jack Johnson was something we couldn't pass up," Lombardi said.

top prospect

At 19, Johnson is considered one of the best prospects not playing in the NHL.

Only Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan were chosen ahead of him in the draft.

Last season, Johnson played for the University of Michigan, where he set a record for first-year defensemen with 10 goals and 32 points in 38 games.

But the hard-hitting rearguard is best known for the controversial shot he delivered to the head of a Canadian player as the final minutes counted down during Canada's 3-2 victory over the US at last year's World Junior Hockey Championships held in Vancouver.

Johnson took aim at an unsuspecting Canadian forward Steve Downie, elbowing him in the head just seconds after Canada scored the winning goal.

strange twist

In a strange twist Johnson was named the US player of the game.

Johnson will return to his US college club for another season of development before joining the NHL club.

Tverdovsky, of the Ukraine, had three goals and 20 assists in 72 contests for league champion Carolina last season and has 77 goals and 236 assists in 687 career games with four franchises.

He also won a Stanley Cup title with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

The Hurricanes were willing to give up youth in order to get some immediate help on defense and at forward.

Belanger, 29, collected 17 goals and 20 assists in 65 games with the Kings last season.

The 23-year-old Gleason recorded two goals and 19 assists in 78 games last season, his second in the league.

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