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Rangers Sign Free Agent Forward Martin Straka

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has signed unrestricted free agent forward Martin Straka.

"Martin is a skilled, character player who plays a complete game," stated Sather. "His skill will complement our team's offense and special teams play. In addition, his strong leadership and willingness to compete every night will have a significant impact on our young talent."

Straka, 32, appeared in 45 games with HC Lassenberger Plzen in the Czech Republic Extraleague (Czech) last season, registering 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points, along with 76 penalty minutes. He led the club with 16 tallies and ranked second with 18 assists and 34 points.

A veteran of 12 NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings, Straka has skated in 730 career NHL games, registering 192 goals and 338 assists for 530 points, along with 272 penalty minutes. As a member of the Pittsburgh organization, he recorded 165 goals and 277 assists for 442 points, along with 215 penalty minutes in 560 contests. His best professional season came in 2000-01 with the Penguins, when he charted career highs in games played (82), assists (68), points (95) and penalty minutes (38). In 1998-99, Straka tallied a career-high 35 goals and represented the Penguins at the 1999 NHL All-Star Game.

The 5-9, 178-pounder has also appeared in 82 career playoff contests with the Penguins and Panthers, registering 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points, along with 32 penalty minutes. In addition, Straka was a key member of Pittsburgh's team that went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2001, appearing in 18 post-season contests and registering five goals and eight assists for 13 points. During the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he skated in 13 of Florida's 22 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, tallying two goals in the Eastern Conference Finals versus Pittsburgh.

Internationally, Straka has represented the Czech Republic in several tournaments over his career. He appeared in six games during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, registering one goal and two assists, en route to capturing the gold medal. At the 2005 World Championships in Austria, Straka registered three goals and one assist in nine contests, helping lead the team to a gold medal finish. In addition, he has also participated in both the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and skated in the World Junior Championships in 1991 (bronze medal) and two additional World Hockey Championships (2003, 2004).

The Plzen, Czech Republic native was originally Pittsburgh's first choice, 18th overall, in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Straka was traded to the Ottawa Senators from Pittsburgh in exchange for Norm Maciver and Troy Murray on April 7, 1995. He was traded to Long Island from Ottawa, along with Don Beaupre and Bryan Berard, in exchange for Damian Rhodes and Wade Redden on January 23, 1996. Straka was claimed on waivers by Florida from Long Island on March 15, 1996. He was signed as a free agent by Pittsburgh on August 6, 1997. Straka was acquired by Los Angeles from Pittsburgh on November 30, 2003, in exchange for Martin Strbak and Sergei Anshakov.
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