With NHL general managers' phone lines smoking as the April 7 trading deadline approaches, it's as good a time as any to rate the deals the Mighty Ducks have made so far. And to wonder which veteran will be next to go.
Here's an easy trivia question. What do Ron Tugnutt, Alexei Kasatonov, Troy Loney, Sean Hill, Bill Houlder, Terry Yake and Anatoli Semenov have in common?
They all played crucial roles in the Mighty Ducks' successful first season, and they're all ex-Ducks, most of them traded for younger, less-proven players. Of the six players on the ice for the franchise's opening faceoff, only goalie Guy Hebert and defenseman Randy Ladouceur remain. Of the 24 players taken in the expansion draft in 1993, only nine are with the team now.
General Manager Jack Ferreira says the organization "has to get younger" or else the Ducks will have too many 32-year-old expansion-draft players in a few years, just when they ought to be ready to contend. But has the rush to rid the team of the original Ducks been too fast? And are the players the team has received good enough?
The future of the organization is still in the draft, where the Ducks have plucked Paul Kariya and Oleg Tverdovsky and might get another high pick this season, depending on their finish. Nevertheless, this year's team suffered early from trades and the youth movement, though Ferreira says, "I still think we're on the right track."
An updated look at each trade in Duck history:
Aug. 10, 1993--Acquired forwards Todd Ewen and Patrik Carnback from Montreal for a 1994 third-round draft pick. Ewen alone would have made it a great deal, with the leadership and toughness he brought. Carnback has been inconsistent, but he has considerable skill and turned 27 only last month. An example of Ferreira's ability to bottom-fish from other teams and come up with key players.
Feb. 20, 1994--Traded goalie Tugnutt to Montreal for center Stephan Lebeau. Best trade in team history. Lebeau has skill with the puck to rival Kariya's and a pinpoint-accurate shot. His production should only improve now that he's playing with Kariya. Lebeau once scored 80 points in a season with Montreal and might approach that again. As for Tugnutt, he played a crucial role in the team's early days as a tag-team goalie, but once Hebert proved he could be a No. 1 goalie, he was expendable.
Feb. 20, 1994--Acquired goalie John Tanner from Quebec for a 1995 fourth-round pick. Allan Bester beat out Tanner with San Diego of the International Hockey League and he was sent to Greensboro in the East Coast Hockey League.
March 21, 1994--Traded defenseman Kasatonov to St. Louis for Maxim Bets and 1995 sixth-round pick. Kasatonov, the team's first representative in the all-star game, turned 35 last October, but the Ducks missed his smooth and steady defense. Bets, a former second-round pick, might prove a bust. He has been tantalizing at times with San Diego but is inconsistent and refused an assignment to Greensboro in the ECHL.
June 29, 1994--Traded left wing Loney to the New York Islanders for defenseman Tom Kurvers. Kurvers is well-liked, but the trade hasn't worked. Loney's leadership as captain meant more than the Ducks realized, and his grinding style was an example the team misses. Kurvers hasn't revived the power play, and his defensive shortcomings were exposed when he was asked to play a regular shift.
June 29, 1994--Traded Hill and a ninth-round pick in the 1994 draft to Ottawa for a third-round pick in the 1994 draft. The Ducks traded the pick for two more picks.
July 12, 1994--Acquired defenseman Robert Dirk from Chicago for a 1995 fourth-round pick. Dirk has been a solid addition to a defense that needed one. Another good example of bottom-fishing.
Aug. 29, 1994--Traded defenseman Bill Houlder to St. Louis for defenseman Jason Marshall. Houlder was caught up ice enough last season to turn Coach Ron Wilson's stomach, but the Ducks missed his point shot more than they imagined. While Houlder thrives in St. Louis, Marshall is in San Diego and isn't even the top prospect among defensemen.
Sept. 2, 1994--Acquired defenseman Darren Van Impe from the Islanders for a conditional 1995 draft pick. Van Impe is the top defensive prospect in San Diego.
Sept. 28, 1994--Traded right wing Yake to Toronto for forward David Sacco. If Ferreira had imagined Bob Corkum, Garry Valk, Joe Sacco and Valeri Karpov would have 11 goals among them this late in the season, he wouldn't have parted with Yake, the team's leading scorer last season. Sacco is in San Diego, and might never be a 50-point scorer in the NHL.
Feb. 2, 1995--Acquired left wing Todd Krygier from Washington for a 1996 fourth-round pick. A regular scratch with the Capitals, Krygier brought grit and scoring ability to Anaheim. With five goals in 17 games, he has scored more goals than Sacco, Valk, Corkum or Karpov.
March 8, 1995--Traded Semenov to Philadelphia for defenseman Milos Holan. Semenov's time with this team had come and gone, and he probably was never going to produce as he did early last season. Holan is 23, and his hard shot from the point already has shored up the power play.
March 8, 1995--Acquired defenseman David Karpa from Quebec for a conditional 1997 draft pick. Karpa, 23, is a physical addition to a defense that needed a little punch, and while he won't be a great player, he is young and came cheap because Ferreira was willing to gamble on him.
Will another veteran be gone by the trading deadline? Ferreira always plays it close to the vest but admits he was ready to do a couple of deals recently but they fell through.
Teams looking for toughness always ask about Ewen and Stu Grimson, and for the first time, the Ducks seem willing to consider parting with one of them.
Wilson doesn't always find room in the lineup for two tough guys with limited scoring ability. Ewen has been a healthy scratch four times recently. He was back in the lineup against San Jose on Thursday, and Wilson took Grimson out instead.
Wilson acts as if the team might stand pat.
"We're not going to improve ourselves enough. You only make trades that will improve your team dramatically," Wilson said. "It's not like every team in the league is knocking on our door asking for players."
But he allows that "teams like us trade veterans to get young players. Some other teams think this is the year they can win the Cup if they get another solid veteran."