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Monday, June 30
Updated: July 1, 3:44 PM ET
For now, Leetch's rights traded to Oilers

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers traded the rights to free agent Brian Leetch to the Edmonton Oilers after being unable to sign the defenseman before the Monday midnight deadline. But it could be a temporary trade.

The Oilers sent backup goaltender Jussi Markkanen and a fourth-round draft pick to New York.

Leetch has been a cornerstone of the Rangers' defense since joining the team after the 1988 Olympics. He can still re-sign with New York starting Tuesday.

The Oilers are unlikely to sign Leetch but will receive a compensatory draft pick in 2004 -- probably a second-rounder -- when he goes to another team.

Leetch, 33, is a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman. He earned $9.68 million last season when he played in just 51 games because of an ankle injury, scoring 12 goals and 30 points.

Markkanen, 28, was 7-8-3 last season with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and three shutouts in 22 games last season. He was the backup goalie on Finland's Olympic team in 2002.

Also Monday, the Oilers re-signed defenseman Cory Cross, 32, to a three-year contract and the Rangers re-signed left wings Ronald Petrovicky and Dan LaCouture.

Petrovicky had five goals and nine assists last season, while LaCouture had three goals and six assists while playing for Pittsburgh and New York.

LaCouture was traded to New York from Pittsburgh on Feb. 10 as part of a seven-player deal.

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