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MIKE PENNER

A Few Names for the Ducks to Consider

March 21, 1993|MIKE PENNER

Eventually, we'll have to move beyond the name-calling. And the price-gouging. And the other Disney-produced diversions that have dominated the brief life of Orange County's professional hockey team.

Eventually, we'll have to get down to hockey.

Won't we?

So far, the tale of two expansion cities has been a study in contrasting checklists.

General manager? Miami has one, Anaheim does not.

Scouts? Miami has some, Anaheim does not.

Nickname? Anaheim has one, Miami does not.

Ticket prices? Anaheim has set them, Miami has not.

Priorities, priorities.

In three months, Anaheim will have to draft a hockey team. Assuming the Mighty Buck$ have a general manager and some scouts in place by then, they will be allowed to participate in the NHL's third expansion draft in as many years, entitling them to three goalies, 13 forwards and eight defensemen, all culled from the rosters of the league's existing 24 franchises.

A recent edition of The Hockey News, the Bible of puckdom, featured a "preliminary list of players who could be available" to Anaheim and Miami come June. According to expansion guidelines that are being called the most liberal ever, existing teams can protect one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards--meaning that, in theory, the Ducks will have the chance to assemble a better first-year team than any of the expansion masses that have gone before them.

It's early, The Hockey News' talent pool is pure speculation, and we're not the ones who will be responsible for Charlie Huddy's $800,000 salary, but the 1993-94 Ducks could look like this:

GOALIES

Mike Richter (New York Rangers): Exhibit A in the argument, waged mainly by Rangers general manager Neil Smith, that the new expansion rules are too lenient. Richter is 26 years old, a 1992 All-Star and owner of a 3.28 career goals-against average, but he figures to be available because John Vanbiesbrouck is the Rangers' starter.

Kay Whitmore (Vancouver): Former starter in Hartford, current backup to Kirk McLean, his 2.93 goals-against average ranks third in the league this season.

Jimmy Waite (Chicago): At 24, he'd be the goaltender of the future anywhere but in Chicago, where Ed Belfour, 28 and Vezina Trophy-bound, is entrenched. In 19 games this season, Waite is 6-6-1 with a goals-against average of 2.76.

FORWARDS

Denis Savard (Montreal): From assistant captain of the Canadiens to Mighty Duck? Savard might retire first. But Savard just turned 32 and after back-to-back seasons of 28 goals, his production has slipped to 13 goals in 54 games. Still, at 45 points, Savard ranks among Montreal's top half-dozen scorers.

Michel Goulet (Chicago): He's 33, but his 20 goals place him first among the unprotected.

Glenn Anderson (Toronto): Another geezer at 33, but he has 56 points this season, a plus-minus mark of plus-18 and four Stanley Cup rings to impress the kids at Anaheim Arena.

Anatoli Semenov (Vancouver): Got to have a Russian on the roster, even in Orange County, if only for curiosity's sake. Semenov scored 20 goals last season, has 12 goals and 46 points this season.

Neal Broten (Minnesota): American-born, clean-cut, 1980 Olympic hero--in three words, Perfect For Disney.

Martin Gelinas (Edmonton): Until Michael Eisner buys Wayne Gretzky--he's working on it, he's working on it--Duck fans will have to settle for the kid who was traded for Gretzky. Now 23, the No. 7 pick in the 1988 amateur draft plays sparingly for the Oilers, but had a 20-goal season in 1990-91.

Gerard Gallant (Detroit): One-time 93-point scorer has hit 30 and the bench, buried beneath the waves of talent in Detroit.

Dave Reid (Boston): Penalty-killing specialist has 19 goals, 34 points in 60 games.

Lonnie Loach (Kings): Led the IHL with 131 points in 1990-91, has been something of a disappointment (10 goals, 20 points) so far for Barry Melrose.

Josef Beranek (Philadelphia): A 24-year old Czech with some goal-scoring ability. Youth-leaning Ducks might take a Flyer on him.

Brian Mullen (New York Islanders): He is 31, he has 14 goals, he has played for four teams in seven years, including San Jose. Expansion Fodder.

Peter Stastny (New Jersey): OK, so he's older than Gordie Howe. Got to have a name to toss up on the marquee the first year. Stastny turns 37 in September, but he still can find the net when he plays (14 goals in 49 games). Bert Blyleven was 38 when he signed with Anaheim's expansion baseball team.

Steve Kasper (Tampa Bay): With that last name, how can Disney's marketeers resist?

DEFENSEMEN

Charlie Huddy (Kings): Lotta years (34), lotta dollars, but he's plus-15 with Stanley Cup experience, and absorbing his contract would be doing good buddy Bruce McNall one whale of a favor. Bruce is due a few.

Craig Muni (Edmonton): Another former Stanley Cupper. Peter Pocklington and Glen Sather continue to clean house.

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