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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings on Friday acquired defensemen Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for center Eric Belanger and defenseman Tim Gleason, it was announced by Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi.

"We felt the opportunity to acquire Jack Johnson was something we couldn't pass up as we continue to search for ways to upgrade this franchise," said Lombardi. "This move required that we give up two good players, but has the potential to help us in the near future as well as for many years to come."

Johnson, 19, the third overall pick (behind Sidney Crosby and Bobby Ryan) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and the fourth-highest rated prospect (behind Evgeni Malkin, Kari Lehtonen and Erik Johnson) by Hockey's Future Prospects On-line Magazine, is enrolled as a sophomore at the University of Michigan after setting a freshman record for scoring as a blueliner with the Wolverines this past season with 32 points (10-22=32) in 38 games. The 6-1, 215-pound native of Indianapolis, Indiana, a finalist for the CCHA's Best Offensive Defenseman Award and a member of the CCHA All-Rookie Team, had five power play goals and two game-winning goals while finishing with 149 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating.

Johnson skated with Team USA at the 2006 World Junior Championship, where his six points (1-5=6) in seven games helped the United States to a fourth place finish. For his efforts, Johnson was named to the tournament All-Star Team and was voted Team USA's Best Player in a game vs. Canada on December 31, 2005. In addition, Johnson has earned gold medals with Team USA at the 2005 World Under-18 Championship, where he tallied two points (0-2=2) in six games and his 35 penalty minutes led the tournament, and with the U.S. Under-18 Team at the 2005 Five Nations Tournament in Sweden and the U.S. Under-18 Team at the 2004 Compuware Four Nations Cup in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he tallied six points (1-5=6) in four games.

Johnson skated with the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2003-05, and he's the all-time leading point-scoring defenseman (with 81 points) in program history. He also owns the record for most points in a game (7) by an NTDP player and in 2004-05 he scored 43 points (14-29=43) in 48 games, good for first among the team's defensemen and seventh among all players.

Tverdovsky, 30, has appeared in one preseason game with Carolina registering two penalty minutes. In addition, the 6-1, 211-pound native of Donetsk, Ukraine, recorded 23 points (3-20=23) and 37 penalty minutes in 72 games with the Hurricanes this past season. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion picked up his second ring last spring with the Hurricanes, appearing in five postseason games while battling groin and hip injuries. Tverdovsky won his first championship with New Jersey in 2003 (recording 0-3=3 in 15 postseason games). Originally selected by Anaheim with the second overall pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Tverdovsky has 313 points (77-236=313) and 281 penalty minutes in 687 career regular season NHL games with Carolina, New Jersey, Anaheim and Phoenix/Winnipeg.

Said Lombardi: "Oleg Tverdovsky is a proven NHL defenseman who adds to our veteran mix on the back end."

Belanger, 28, has one goal and two penalty minutes in three preseason games with the Kings. The 6-0, 188-pound native of Sherbrooke, Quebec, set new career highs for goals (17), points (37), penalty minutes (62) and shooting percentage (14.3 percent) in 65 games with the Kings this past season and he tied a career high with 20 assists. Originally selected by the Kings in the fourth-round (96th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Belanger has 150 points (63-87=150) and 169 penalty minutes in 323 career regular season NHL games and five points (1-4=5) and six penalty minutes in 20 career post-season NHL games with the Kings.

Gleason, 23, has zero points and four penalty minutes in three preseason games with the Kings. The 6-1, 217-pound native of Clawson, Michigan, recorded career highs for goals (two), assists (19), points (21) and games played (78) with the Kings this past season. In addition, he recorded 77 penalty minutes and finished second on the club in hits (141) and third on the club in blocked shots (117) while averaging 17:41 ice time/game. Originally selected by Ottawa in the first-round (23rd overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Gleason was acquired by the Kings from Ottawa for Bryan Smolinski on March 11, 2003. Gleason has 28 points (2-26=28) and 98 penalty minutes in 125 career regular season NHL games – all with the Kings.
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