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Islanders acquire Hextall

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders, surprising Stanley Cup semifinalists this past season, acquired veteran goaltender Ron Hextall from the Quebec Nordiques Sunday in exchange for goalie Mark Fitzpatrick.

Hextall's acquisition means the Islanders will leave goalie Glenn Healy unprotected in this Thursday's expansion draft. Healy played a major role in the Islanders' 1993 playoff run into the Wales Conference finals, including an improbable upset of the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

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The Islanders and Nordiques also agreed to swap their first-round picks in next Saturday's NHL entry draft.

Hextall, 29, was 29-16-5 with a 3.45 goals-against average in his first season with the Nordiques. He was one of six players dealt to Quebec by the Philadelphia Flyers last June in the landmark Eric Lindros trade.

'I heard rumblings,' the one-time Vezina Trophy winner said. 'It's not a complete surprise.'

The fiery Hextall struggled in the postseason as the Nordiques were knocked out in the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. Quebec's promising backup goalie Stephane Fiset and a high salary made Hextall expendable.

Islanders general manager Don Maloney said the injuries that have limited Hextall's playing time the past few seasons could work in his favor with New York.

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'This guy's a proven winner,' Maloney said.

Hextall won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's most valuable goalie and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in 1987 after leading the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

He is the only goaltender in league history to score two goals. He tallied against Boston on Dec. 8, 1987, and against Washington in an April 11, 1989, playoff game.

Fitzpatrick, 24, went 17-15-5 with a 3.46 goals-against average with the Islanders last season, but played in only three of New York's 18 playoff games.

He won the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1992 after battling back from a case of Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome, a severe blood disorder. Fitzpatrick endured four months of treatment and rehabilitation and returned to the NHL in March 1991.

Also Sunday, the Islanders traded defenseman Jeff Norton to the San Jose Sharks for a conditional 1994 draft pick.

Norton, 27, had spent his entire six-year career with New York but saw limited action during the 1993 playoffs. He had a career-high 12 goals and 38 assists in 66 games during the regular season but played in only 10 of the Islanders' 18 postseason contests.

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