Rumored for more than a year, the Teemu Selanne trade finally came to pass in the wee hours Monday morning. The Mighty Ducks sent the all-star right wing to the San Jose Sharks for left wing Jeff Friesen, backup goaltender Steve Shields and future considerations.
The Ducks also put goalie Guy Hebert on nonroster waivers in hopes of dealing him before next Tuesday’s trade deadline. It’s believed that the Colorado Avalanche and the New York Rangers have contacted the Ducks about trading for him.
Hebert, 34, was the last player remaining from the Ducks’ first season in 1993.
The deal for Selanne makes the Sharks, battling for their first Pacific Division championship, a more well-rounded team. The Sharks are second in the league in fewest goals allowed, and Selanne will give them the boost on offense they have needed all season.
By dealing Selanne, the last-place Ducks gained a determined young forward in Friesen and a solid goalie in Shields.
The Ducks will receive a second-round draft pick in 2003 if the Sharks re-sign Selanne, who will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. However, if Shields meets certain undisclosed statistical standards, the Ducks will not receive the pick.
In addition, the Ducks have taken the unusual step of agreeing to pay about $3 million of Selanne’s $8.5 million salary for next season. Neither Pierre Gauthier, Duck president and general manager, nor Dean Lombardi, San Jose general manager, would reveal the exact figure Anaheim will pay. But Lombardi hinted that forward Owen Nolan, who will be paid $5.3 million next season, would continue to receive more money from the Sharks than any other player.
In the end, the Ducks lost a great deal more than they gained when the trade was completed at about 2:30 a.m. Monday.
Selanne, 30, was the heart and soul of the organization, his joyful personality lighting up the Arrowhead Pond on the many nights when the team struggled. Known as the “Finnish Flash,” he gave the Ducks a global identity. Reporters from Finland frequently tailed Selanne and the Ducks from city to city. Finnish flags were often on display in arenas around the NHL.
“A different era is starting,” Gauthier acknowledged. “We’ve had our ups and downs. We had a formula here that didn’t work very well. Strictly from a financial viewpoint, it doesn’t make sense to have half of your payroll going to two players. [But] our identity is changing. We’re going forward.”
Selanne, at $8 million, and left wing Paul Kariya ($10 million) accounted for roughly half of the team’s nearly $40-million payroll. Gauthier discounted the notion that he will use the money he’s saving on Selanne’s contract to aggressively pursue free agents in the off-season.
Friesen, whose salary is $2.5 million, will be a restricted free agent July 1. The Ducks hold the option for next season for Shields, whose salary is $1.65 million for 2000-01.
Friesen, 24, has struggled at times this season, scoring 12 goals and 36 points in 64 games. He has one goal in his last 17 games and earlier this season went through a 15-game goal drought.
“It’s a shock, obviously,” he said of being traded for the first time. “When you spend seven years with a team and put your heart and soul into it, it’s tough.”
Shields, 28, who led the Sharks to a first-round playoff upset of the St. Louis Blues last season, had lost his starting job to rookie Evgeni Nabokov. Shields, who also served as Dominik Hasek’s backup for three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, is 6-8-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage in 21 games.
“The objective of the trade was to improve the club immediately and for the future,” Gauthier said. “We believe it will make our team better. We want to thank Teemu Selanne. He’s been a great ambassador for hockey in Orange County. We’ll always be great fans of Teemu Selanne.”
Asked about his November statement that he would not trade Selanne, Gauthier said, “Things changed. There had been a lot of rumors about Teemu. I got a lot of calls [from general managers] about Teemu. It got to the point where I felt it was my duty to listen.”
Gauthier all but had a deal completed last season that would have sent Selanne to the Carolina Hurricanes for bruising center Keith Primeau. But Primeau was instead dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Talks between the Ducks and Sharks intensified Friday afternoon, according to Lombardi. Several hours after the Ducks defeated the Kings, 4-0, Sunday at the Pond, the deal was completed.
“I think if you make a deal for Friesen, it has to be for a special player,” Lombardi said. “He’s a kid who has been here since he was 17. He’s struggled with his numbers this year. But, as the team gets better, he doesn’t get unconditional ice time as he did in the past. Friesen is not going to cheat you as far as effort goes.”
Of Selanne, Lombardi said, “He fills a box in terms of our blueprint here. I don’t know if you’re going to see 70 goals from him, but we do consider him to be an elite scorer.”
Selanne, acquired Feb. 7, 1996, from the Winnipeg Jets in the Ducks’ first blockbuster deal, said he was more relieved than surprised that a deal was struck.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “When I heard I was going to the Sharks, I had a positive feeling. You’re always nervous when you hear you’re traded. But I am relieved too. The last two seasons, every day people were asking me about the trade rumors. There were rumors all the time, but I was still a little surprised. That’s hockey, I guess.”
The Ducks advanced to the second round of the postseason only once while Kariya and Selanne formed one of the league’s top one-two scoring combinations.
Hebert, who started the Ducks’ first NHL game Oct. 8, 1993, and led them to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1997, was among the team’s most popular players. After every save, spectacular and routine alike, fans bellowed his first name.
But he fell on hard times starting midway through last season, failing to continue the form that enabled the expansion Ducks to be competitive despite being badly overmatched in their early years. He was 12-23-4 with a 3.12 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage in 41 games this season.
Gauthier refused to speculate what would happen if he failed to deal Hebert by next Tuesday.
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* Winger Jeff Friesen handles the puck well, has a good wrist shot and passing skills and is strong on faceoffs. He has averaged 23 goals and 30 assists per season and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team (1994-95).
* At 6-3, 215, Steve Shields is a big goalie who uses his size to cover the net. He is 55-63-27 in his career with a 2.71 goals-against average.
* The Ducks also will receive a second-round draft pick in 2003 if the Sharks re-sign Selanne, who will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. However, if Shields meets certain undisclosed statistical standards, the Ducks will not receive the pick.
* Teemu Selanne holds Mighty Duck season records for goals (52 in 1997-98) and points (109 in 1996-97). In 394 games with the Ducks, he scored 225 goals and had 257 assists.
* Put on nonroster waivers Monday, goalie Guy Hebert is an original Duck, chosen in the 1993 expansion draft from St. Louis. He has a 173-202-52 record with Anaheim, and a 2.74 goals-against average.
Regular-season statistics for the two players acquired Monday by the Mighty Ducks from San Jose for Teemu Selanne:
Season Team GP G A Pts. PIM 1994-95 San Jose 48 15 10 25 14 1995-96 San Jose 79 15 31 46 42 1996-97 San Jose 82 28 34 62 75 1997-98 San Jose 79 31 32 63 40 1998-99 San Jose 78 22 35 57 42 1999-2000 San Jose 82 26 35 61 47 2000-01 San Jose 64 12 24 36 56 Totals 512 149 201 350 316
Season Team GP W-L-T SO GAA 1995-96 Buffalo 2 1-0-0 0 3.20 1996-97 Buffalo 13 3-8-2 0 2.97 1997-98 Buffalo 16 3-6-4 0 2.83 1998-99 San Jose 37 15-11-8 4 2.22 1999-2000 San Jose 67 27-30-8 4 2.56 2000-01 San Jose 21 6-8-5 2 2.48 Totals 156 55-63-27 10 2.36
Teemu Selanne’s trade to the San Jose Sharks surprised his close friend and now former linemate, Paul Kariya, as much as anyone. D6