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Devils Look To Clean Up Mess

The New Jersey Devils, embarrassed early in the playoff the last three seasons, are close to making a deal with Vancouver for Mark Messier, the New York Post reported Monday.

The Canucks probably would receive centers Denis Pederson and Brendan Morrison plus a second-round draft pick for Messier, a 22-year NHL veteran who recently appeared in his 14th All-Star game, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

"He wants to come to New Jersey and they want him," a source told the tabloid.

Messier, who helped the New York Rangers end a 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, has a no-trade clause in his contract. The newspaper suggested that Messier would try to rework his current contract before approving a trade to the Devils, who won their only Stanley Cup in 1995.

Messier, who helped Edmonton win five Stanley Cup titles, is in the final guaranteed year of his deal, with the Canucks having the option to either re-sign him to two more years for $12 million, or buy out the remainder of the contract for $2 million.

Devils spokesman Kevin Dessart said he was unaware the team was pursuing Messier.

Asked if the team would be interested if Messier was offered, Dessart said that decision would lie with general manager Lou Lamoriello, who was at the NHL governors' meeting in California.

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