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Ducks Trade Kasatonov, Acquire Prospect and Pick

March 22, 1994|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

While other teams made moves for the playoff run before the NHL trading deadline Monday, the Mighty Ducks made a deal for the future, trading defenseman Alexei Kasatonov--their oldest and highest-paid player--to the St. Louis Blues for a prospect and a draft pick.

Kasatonov was the Ducks' first All-Star, and he won two Olympic gold medals with the Soviet national team. But at 34, he is in the waning years of his career and he has another year left on a contract that will pay him $650,000 this season.

Kasatonov also had missed the last 11 games recovering from a broken right foot since being hit by a shot Feb. 20--coincidentally against St. Louis, his new team.

"It's life, it's hockey," Kasatonov said. "I have a long hockey life, so I'm not surprised (to be traded). But I am surprised because I have an injury. I'm not ready to play. It's still sore. Maybe after two games."

St. Louis General Manager Ron Caron said he was aware of the injury but said Kasatonov "has been cleared to play," and he expects him to be among the Blues' top four defensemen.

Though the Ducks--who already had the lowest payroll in the NHL--might appear to be making room to sign draft pick Paul Kariya, General Manager Jack Ferreira said the Kasatonov deal had "nothing to do" with the stalled negotiations with Kariya. The sides remain millions apart on a multiyear deal.

In exchange for Kasatonov, the Ducks acquired left wing Maxim Bets, 20, who was a second-round draft pick last June, and St. Louis' sixth-round pick in 1995.

Bets, who is from Chelyabinsk in the former Soviet Union, was drafted by the Blues in the second round last June with the 37th pick overall. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward is playing junior hockey with Spokane of the Western Hockey League this season, and has 46 goals and 116 points in 63 games this season. He will finish the season with his junior team, but after that he could join minor league affiliate San Diego or possibly the Ducks if he signs.

"Maxim Bets in an outstanding young player who we rated as one of the top 25 prospects in last year's draft," Ferreira said. "He is the type of player who will provide us with additional offense and creativity. Bets is someone who we project to play for the Mighty Ducks in the next year or two."

Though the Ducks are only five points out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with 12 games remaining in their first season, they did not make any moves Monday to strengthen this year's team.

"Everything we tried to do that was to help us for the playoff drive involved (giving up) a core player," Ferreira said. "We weren't going to make those moves."

Kasatonov, who had four goals and 18 assists in 55 games with the Ducks, is expected to join St. Louis today.

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