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Atlanta acquires defenseman Zhitnik from Philadelphia

NHL.com @NHL

ATLANTA (AP) -The Atlanta Thrashers acquired defenseman Alexei Zhitnik from the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night for former first-round draft pick Braydon Coburn.

Zhitnik, an All-Star in 1999 and 2002, has five goals and 19 assists in 61 games with the Flyers and New York Islanders this season. Philadelphia acquired him in a Dec. 16 deal with the Islanders.

The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. (EST) Tuesday.

"At the trade deadline anything can happen," Zhitnik said. "That's part of the business. I felt some team might be interested in me."

The 34-year-old Zhitnik needs six points to reach 30 for the ninth time in 13 seasons. He has played in 94 playoff games, advancing to the Stanley Cup finals with Los Angeles in 1993 and Buffalo in 1999.

"I liked it here," Zhitnik said. "I really appreciated the Philadelphia organization. It was pretty good to me. I have no complaints. I wish them good luck."

The 21-year-old Coburn, the eighth overall pick in the 2003 draft, has spent much of the last two seasons with the Thrashers' AHL affiliate in Chicago. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman had four assists and 30 penalty minutes in 29 games for Atlanta this season.

"Braydon is a guy that we've liked for a long time," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He just never found his niche in Atlanta for whatever reason. He'd get 8-10 minutes a night when he did play. We see tremendous upside with him.

"He is a big, young defenseman that skates very well. He will fit in nicely with our young group."

Zhitnik was acquired by the Flyers from the New York Islanders for Freddie Meyer and a conditional draft pick on Dec. 16. In 31 games with Philadelphia, Zhitnik had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and 38 penalty minutes.

In 1,002 career regular-season games, Zhitnik has 91 goals and 357 assists for 448 points. He also has 1,196 penalty minutes.

"Alexei was a good player for us and we wish him nothing but the best in the future," Holmgren said.

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