Sauer Joins Avalanche in Trade for Skoula

Times Staff Writer

The remolding of the Mighty Ducks -- or is that retrofitting? -- continued Saturday as they acquired offensive-minded defenseman Martin Skoula from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for steady defenseman Kurt Sauer. Also included in the deal is the Ducks’ fourth-round choice in the 2005 NHL entry draft.

The Ducks were looking for more offensive punch from the blue line, someone (other than the injured Sandis Ozolinsh) with the puck-movement skills to get it ahead to their forwards. And the suddenly struggling Avalanche, which has given up 10 goals in its last two games, simply needed some stay-at-home stability.

“We want this thing to work here,” Duck General Manager Bryan Murray said. “We want to get better. We’re not only doing this thing for today, but we’re trying to make sure our team is prepared for what’s happening with hockey in the future. This really addressed one of the major needs in the organization.

“We don’t have anybody coming that would be classified as a skilled, playmaking, or whatever the word may be, defenseman.”


Skoula, 24, has appeared in 58 games for Colorado and has two goals and 16 points and is in his fifth NHL season. He was with the Cup-winning team in 2001. This season, he is a plus-two overall, but has one point in his last nine games and is a minus-six in the last two games. His 113 career points rank third among active defensemen under 25 years of age and he had consecutive seasons of 25 and 31 points on his resume.

Sauer, 23, with one goal and five points in 55 games, had fallen off after an outstanding rookie season.

Sauer, told of the news late Friday night, was still in shock early Saturday morning when he was packing and getting ready to catch a plane for his native Minnesota, where the Avalanche plays the Wild today.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said Sauer, whose son, Kohl Christopher, will be 1 year old Tuesday.


“I try to look ahead. The reasons why ... it doesn’t really matter. Maybe I’ll think about it on the plane. I was drafted by them [Colorado]. It’s back to where it all started.”

It was a difficult trade for Coach Mike Babcock, who recommended the Ducks make a bid when Colorado didn’t sign Sauer.

“I remember when Kurt Sauer’s dad dropped him off in Spokane [Wash.] to me years ago, shook my hand and said, ‘Look after my son,’ ” Babcock said. “I’d say we did that part already.”

As for Skoula, Murray did his research, which included consulting Duck forward Petr Sykora, who played with Skoula on the Czech Republic national team at the 2002 Olympics. Skoula has a year left on his contract, as does Sauer, Murray said.

“In my mind, at the Olympics, he was the best defenseman out there for our team,” Sykora said.

Since the Avalanche played at Dallas on Friday night, Skoula remained in Texas, waiting for the Ducks, and is expected to play today against the Stars.

“It was kind of surprising,” Skoula said in a conference call. “Then I got kind of happier. Not happier, but Colorado obviously is a top team. But in Anaheim I could get more responsibility and ice time and that’s what I was looking for.”



at Dallas, 1 p.m. PST, ESPN

Site -- American Airlines Center.

Radio -- XPRS (1090).

Records -- Ducks 21-24-8-8, Stars 29-22-10-0.

Record vs. Stars -- 2-1-2-0

Update -- The Ducks scored twice within 19 seconds to defeat Dallas, 3-1, Monday at the Pond.