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The Dealing Ducks : How to Improve in a Flash : Mighty Ducks Get All-Star Selanne, Send Tverdovsky and Kilger to Jets

February 08, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a stunning departure from their plan to build slowly and cautiously, the Mighty Ducks acquired Winnipeg star Teemu Selanne on Wednesday, giving up their last two first-round draft picks--defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky and center Chad Kilger.

With Selanne, nicknamed the Finnish Flash, the Ducks finally have a linemate worthy of Paul Kariya, the young star who had been creating opportunities for teammates not always capable of cashing in.

Selanne will meet the Ducks in New York today and make his debut against the Islanders on Saturday.

No Duck has ever scored as many points in a season as Selanne already has this season, with 72, though Kariya is on a pace not far behind.

Only one Duck, Todd Krygier, has scored more goals in his career than Selanne did as a rookie in 1992-93, when he scored 76, setting an NHL record for a first-year player.

Selanne has 147 goals and 306 points in his career, the equivalent of less than three full NHL seasons--and is still only 25.

"Last time I heard, Teemu wasn't wheeling away to the old-age home," club President Tony Tavares said.

General Manager Jack Ferreira had often said he couldn't pull off any big trades because he wouldn't part with No. 8, No. 9 or No. 10--Kilger, Kariya or Tverdovsky. Wednesday he parted with two of them.

"You have your plan, you try to put things in perspective and figure out where you want to be in a couple years," Ferreira said. "You don't expect that Teemu Selanne is going to become available.

"Yeah, I mean [giving up those players] was something we had to really discuss and think about. Obviously, I think right now we get the best player, but down the road they'll both be great players. But Teemu Selannes don't come along very often. We had to do it.

"Our two guys have not failed; they didn't fail. It's just you don't have a chance to get a guy like Teemu every day of the week."

The Ducks also received a prospect, center Marc Chouinard, who was drafted 32nd overall last July, and Winnipeg's fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft. Winnipeg gets the Ducks' third-round pick.

For a Duck team that has grown accustomed to savvy but conservative trades for prospects few of the players have ever heard of, Wednesday's deal was a blockbuster.

"Wow, huh?" enforcer Todd Ewen said. "Oleg came in here and said, 'Me and Chad got traded for Teemu Selanne.' We all said, 'Yeah, yeah, sure you did.' "

Coach Ron Wilson got word of the deal at 9:15 a.m., then broke the news to the two flabbergasted young players.

"I was in definite shock," said Kilger, 19, who was teary-eyed after learning of the trade. "Ron pulled us into his office, Oleg and I, and my first thought was that this was a rookie joke. He told us and said, 'Any questions?' And I said, 'Yeah, are you serious?' "

Selanne wasn't overly happy to be leaving Winnipeg--soon to be Phoenix next season--especially because his fiancee, Sirpa, is expecting their first child Feb. 24 and cannot travel. He had grown tired of trade rumors over the past year, and when he was told of Wednesday's deal, he yanked his nameplate off his dressing room stall and walked out, though he returned later.

"I personally feel if my old team decides it doesn't need me, I'm more than happy to go to someone who needs me," said Selanne, who was traded largely because despite three highly paid stars in Selanne, Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov, the Jets have missed the playoffs three times in a row and are in danger of not making them again.

Selanne will make $2.75 million this season in the first year of a five-year, $15-million deal whose price tag to the Ducks is offset by several recently departed players.

As for joining a team that has never made the playoffs, Selanne said, "For sure it's going to be a big challenge for myself and the whole team, but I like that kind of story. In Finland it was the same situation. When I got there, the team wasn't very good. They were starting to build and then when I finished there we were league champions. I like that kind of story. Hopefully I can really help."

He can definitely help answer the musing about what Kariya might be able to accomplish with a big, fast, skilled winger.

"This certainly is great for Paul," Wilson said. "Paul sees that he doesn't have to wait two or three years for some other players to develop. Now the other teams in the league can't just key on Paul. They have to key on Teemu Selanne as well."

Kariya met Selanne at the All-Star game and came away impressed.

"Obviously Chad and Oleg are two really good guys and we're sad to see them go," Kariya said. "They both have a bright future, but we get a guy like Teemu Selanne, a superstar, and he's only 25 years old. He's still young. It's a tremendous deal right now. He's a classy, classy guy, very humble. He doesn't have a big ego despite all his accomplishments.

"He scored 76 goals--he's got everything. He can pass the puck, he's got great speed. All we need to do is get faster ice to go with him."

Players applauded the deal all around.

"It's pretty surprising," goalie Guy Hebert said. "What we've played under since really the first year was the idea that we were going to build through the draft, take our lumps, and develop some guys.

"Chad and Oleg will still be great players in this league. But we're in a situation where we needed help in the present. We need to win. This makes a statement to other teams in the conference that we're not afraid to make moves to upgrade our team. It pretty much says, 'Watch out.'

"I've had to face him many times--too many. I know what kind of goal-scorer he is. He's terrific."

* DUCKS LOSE: C5

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