Kings trade Sean Avery to Rangers
Abrasive forward Sean Avery is headed to the New York Rangers.
Avery, 26, was dealt by the Los Angeles Kings for forward Jason Ward and unsigned prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek.
New York also received John Seymour, a 19-year-old forward with the OHL Brampton Battalion.
"Some teams were actively pursuing Sean," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. "The Rangers were very aggressive."
Avery has posted 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points with 116 penalty minutes in 55 games this season.
The Pickering, Ont., native has totalled 42 goals and 114 points with 855 penalty minutes in 293 games over five NHL seasons.
Avery, who is making $1.1 million US this season, becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
"From the summer, when I first got there, there wasn't much of a market for Sean Avery," Lombardi said. "He's made progress."
Avery is one of the league's most outspoken players, having been reprimanded in the past for making derogatory comments about French-Canadian players and for claiming he was being singled out during a crackdown on diving.
He also criticized player representatives sitting on the NHL's competition committee for endorsing fines without the right to appeal.
But Avery has behaved himself this season.
"He's been good," Lombardi said. "All year, he's learned to be a better teammate.
"He comes to play every night. Sometimes, emotion gets the best of him, [but] I think he's made marked improvement this year.
"Sometimes, players just take a little time to mature. Sean's still young [and], hopefully, he'll continue to do so.
"He's going to a big stage now. If he continues [to mature], he'll do just fine."
Avery entered the league as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, who packaged him, Maxim Kuznetsov and two draft picks to Los Angeles for Mathieu Schneider on March 11, 2003.
Ward, 28, has four goals and 10 points in 46 games this season, his sixth in the NHL.
The native of Chapleau, Ont., has registered 24 goals and 58 points in 232 NHL games since being drafted 11th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1997.
Ward joined the Rangers as a free agent on Aug. 4, 2005.
"He can come in and play for us right now," Lombardi said. "[But] from our standpoint, the key is the young player — Cliche — who has impressed us."
"This kid works his tail off. He's the type of character we're looking for."
With files from the Associated Press