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Leafs acquire walkaway rights, sign F Dmitri Khristich

TORONTO (TICKER) -- Dmitri Khristich today escaped the clutches of Boston Bruins general manager Harry Sinden.

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired the walkaway rights to the high-scoring forward from Boston for a second-round pick in the 2000 draft, then signed him to a multi-year contract.

This summer, an arbitrator awarded Khristich $2.8 million for the 1999-2000 season, but Sinden thought the figure was too high and chose to exercise the team's walkaway rights.

That made Khristich an unrestricted free agent, but the Bruins retained the right to match any offer sheet that did not exceed 80 percent of the arbitrator's figure, or $2.24 million.

Khristich's new deal with Toronto likely is less than $2.24 million a season, since the Leafs sent Boston a draft pick to obtain the walkaway rights.

Sinden offered Khristich $1.95 million -- the equivalent to last year's salary -- for the current season.

Khristich, 30, was the second-leading scorer on the Bruins last season, posting 71 points with a team-best 29 goals and 42 assists in 79 games. He had a team-high 13 power-play goals and netted six game-winners.

A nine-year veteran acquired by Boston in August 1997 from Los Angeles, Khristich has 225 goals and 283 assists in 627 games with the Bruins, Kings and Washington Capitals.

Boston is close to having nothing to show for a trade that sent Jozef Stumpel, Sandy Moger and a draft pick to Los Angeles for Khristich and Byron Dafoe, who has asked for a trade during a current contract dispute with Sinden.

Without Dafoe and with a stumbling offense, the Bruins are off to the second-worst start in franchise history at 0-5-4.

The acquisition of Khristich, a Ukrainian, comes one day after the Leafs sent veteran left wing Derek King to St. Louis for an exchange of eighth-round picks in the 2000 draft and defenseman Tyler Harlton.

It also helps cushion the blow of losing captain Mats Sundin to a broken ankle. Sundin, who had three goals and four assists in seven games before being injured, is expected to miss another month.

The Leafs enter the day atop the Northeast Division with 11 points. Meanwhile, the division-rival Bruins are winless in their first nine games for the first time since beginning the 1964-65 campaign 0-8-1.

Toronto dealt Boston its second-round pick next year but owns Edmonton's second-round selection for trading Jason Smith in March.

updated at Thu Oct 21 11:01:23 1999 PT


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