Kings send Strbak, Anshakov to Pens

Updated: December 1, 2003, 12:20 AM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The Los Angeles Kings acquired center Martin Straka from the cash-strapped Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night for defenseman Martin Strbak and minor league forward Sergei Anshakov.

The Kings announced the deal during the third period of their game against the Dallas Stars.

Straka had four goals and eight assists in 22 games for the Penguins this season. A four-time career 20-goal scorer, Straka set career highs for assists (68) and points (95) during the 2000-01 season.

Straka's production has slipped since he missed most of the 2001-02 season with a broken leg. He had 18 goals and 28 assists in 60 games last season.

"We're excited to have him," Kings coach Andy Murray said after his team's game. "He's known to be a really good person. I've coached against him when I was coaching Team Canada. He should add some character to our team. The offense will take care of itself as long as we get the other things from him."

The Penguins also have dealt a number of stars -- Jaromir Jagr, Robert Lang and Alexei Kovalev among them -- to shed payroll, forcing Straka to play with less-talented linemates.

The Penguins have been looking to deal Straka since February, about the time they dealt Kovalev to the Rangers. The 31-year-old Straka is making $4.35 million this season and $4.7 million next season, about one-quarter of the Penguins' $26 million payroll. That figure does not include the $3 million-plus in bonuses rookie goalie Marc-Andre Fleury potentially could earn if he stays with the team.

Straka's big contract had become a liability to the last-place Penguins, who have seen attendance drop by more than 3,000 per game this season. Pittsburgh is last in the Eastern Conference with 15 points.

Straka no doubt hopes to regain his scoring touch in the more wide-open Western Conference. He and Kovalev tied for fourth in the league in scoring in 2000-01.

"Martin Straka will bring dynamic elements to our lineup with his speed, quickness and skill," Kings vice president and general manager Dave Taylor said. "We think his talents will fit in well with our other top offensive players and we are excited to bring his abilities into that mix."

Strbak, 28, had two goals and no assists in five games with the Kings this season. Anshakov, 19, a second-round pick in the 2002 draft, has not played with Los Angeles this season, but gives the rebuilding Penguins another prospect.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press