<
>

Sharks acquire LW Nieminen from Rangers

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The struggling San Jose Sharks acquired
left wing Ville Nieminen from the New York Rangers on Wednesday for
a third-round pick in the upcoming draft.

Nieminen, a key member of Finland's silver medal-winning team at
the Torino Olympics, has five goals and 12 assists in 48 games with
the Rangers this season. San Jose general manager Doug Wilson hopes
the agitating forward will provide the Sharks with some of the
tenacity they've lacked in a disappointing season.

"He brings grit, and he gets very involved in the game,"
Wilson said. "You saw what he did at the Olympics with Finland,
and he plays very well in the playoffs. He just has that energy
that you need. Every team that he goes to, he makes them better."

Nieminen is joining his sixth team in the last five NHL seasons.
He also has played for Calgary, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Colorado,
which drafted him in the third round in 1997.

The Rangers could have made the deal as a prelude to another
move, clearing Nieminen's salary off the books. Nieminen is under
contract through next season.

Nieminen will be in uniform for the Sharks' home game against
Edmonton on Thursday night. San Jose completed a discouraging,
winless road trip Tuesday in Anaheim when captain Patrick Marleau
put the puck into his own net during overtime of a 5-4 loss.

The Sharks are in 11th place in the Western Conference, eight
points behind the Oilers for the final playoff spot.

"I like our team, and I believe in our team a lot," Wilson
said. "I think we're all frustrated that we haven't performed up
to our capabilities. I also know that sometimes you need some type
of spark to get you going. Ville is that type of spark type of
player."

Nieminen spent the 2003-04 season with the Calgary Flames,
facing the Sharks in the Western Conference finals. He attended
school in his hometown of Tampere, Finland, with close friend Vesa
Toskala, the Sharks' longtime backup goalie.