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Tuesday, July 1
Updated: July 2, 12:23 PM ET
Rangers trade Messier rights to Sharks

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Mark Messier, whose first stint on Broadway earned him the nickname "The Messiah," had his rights traded from the New York Rangers to the San Jose Sharks for future considerations, the teams announced Tuesday.

The deal was consummated before the Monday midnight ET deadline when eligible players became free agents.

Messier, 42, became an unrestricted free agent Tuesday, meaning he can sign with any team, including the Rangers, whom he helped to the Stanley Cup in 1994 and returned to captain in 2000-01 after a three-year absence.

On Monday the Rangers also traded All-Star defenseman Brian Leetch to Edmonton for backup goaltender Jussi Markkanen and a fourth-round draft choice in 2004.

If their new teams fail to sign Messier and Leetch, the clubs will be awarded compensation.

Messier, who is embarking on his 25th NHL season, recorded 18 goals and 22 assists in 78 games last season. He was third on the team with eight power-play goals and first with five game-winners.

A season earlier, Messier played just 41 games because of a shoulder inujury and posted career lows with seven goals and 16 assists.

Messier ranks third in NHL history with 1,844 points, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (2,857) and Gordie Howe (1,850). He is eighth with 676 goals and fourth with 1,168 assists.

Messier, who led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994, is second all-time in playoff scoring with 295 points and has appeared in more postseason games (236) than anyone in league history.

Messier also won five Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers.

The Rangers have missed the playoffs in a franchise-record six straight seasons.

A 14-time All-Star, Messier won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1990 and 1992 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1984.

The Sharks also allowed left wing Adam Graves to become an unrestricted free agent by declining to pick up his $3 million option for next season. The Sharks still hope to re-sign Graves, general manager Doug Wilson said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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