Veteran G Mike Vernon, a winner of two Stanley Cups in his 15-year NHL career, was dealt to the Panthers yesterday in a three-way deal.

The Rangers also were in on the trade, which saw Florida RW Radek Dvorak joining the Rangers and F Todd Harvey going to San Jose.

Vernon, 36, was displaced by Steve Shields as the Sharks' starting goaltender. He had a 6-5-1 record and a 2.49 goals-against average in 15 starts with San Jose this season.

Vernon, who won Stanley Cup titles with Calgary in 1989 and Detroit in 1997, fills a need for Florida. Starting G Trevor Kidd is out for two months after dislocating his shoulder Dec. 13. The Panthers also received a third-round pick in the upcoming draft from San Jose. The Sharks picked up a fourth-round pick in 2001 from the Rangers along with Harvey.

LIMBO: For a few hours this week, C Keith Primeau thought he had a new job.

Instead, he remains idled by a contract dispute with the Hurricanes.

"All I know is that I was close to getting moved Tuesday," Primeau said Wednesday from his home in Cary, a Raleigh, N.C. suburb. "Then I got another call Tuesday night saying that the deal was off."

The News & Observer of Raleigh said the center would have been traded but,according to unnamed sources, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos blocked the deal.