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Looking for Offense, Ducks Send Sillinger to Vancouver

Hockey: They get left winger Oksiuta, who was second to Kariya in rookie scoring last year.

March 16, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — With Wednesday's NHL trading deadline approaching, the Mighty Ducks tried to boost their offense Friday by sending disappointing right wing Mike Sillinger to Vancouver for left wing Roman Oksiuta, who was one of the NHL's top rookie goal-scorers last season.

Sillinger, 24, and Oksiuta, 25, changed teams at the trading deadline last year as well. Oksiuta was traded from Edmonton for defenseman Jiri Slegr, and Sillinger came to Anaheim from Detroit along with defenseman Jason York in a deal for tough guy Stu Grimson.

Oksiuta, a 6-foot-3, 229-pound forward whose nickname is "Ox," had 16 goals in 38 games last season with Edmonton and Vancouver, second among rookies to Paul Kariya's 18. This season, he has 16 goals and 39 points in 56 games, but had been unhappy recently about his diminished playing time and had argued with Coach Rick Ley about it, according to Vancouver newspaper reports.

"I just think he gives us a little more scoring punch," Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira said. "He has really good hands and he does have size. He's another guy who can probably help on our power play."

Oksiuta has been in and out of the lineup with two teams the past two seasons, partly because of his defensive play. Drafted by the Rangers in the 11th round of the 1989 draft, he has credited his NHL breakthrough last season partly to quitting drinking in 1994 and losing weight, according to several published reports.

Oksiuta told Vancouver reporters Friday that he didn't expect the trade, and that he had patched up his differences with Ley.

"Who knows? It's good news, bad news. It's business," he said. "The last two to three months, not too much playing time at all."

The Ducks had projected Sillinger, a former first-round pick, as a 70-point scorer, but he had only 13 goals and 34 points in 62 games this season and was a team-worst minus-20. He recently emerged from a 23-game stretch without a goal with two goals and six points in his last eight games.

Sillinger said he didn't anticipate being traded until he read comments from Ferreira about trying to acquire more scoring help.

"Then I started to think maybe it's going to be me," he said. "It's weird, a year ago I was traded at the same time, right around the deadline. You see a lot of players moving, especially now that contracts have a lot to do with it, and I don't have a contract after this year."

Sillinger was scratched from the lineup six times in January and February while he was slumping, but he didn't complain.

"[Coach Ron Wilson] had to set an example with someone and I think I handled it fine, in a professional manner, and so did the coaching staff," Sillinger said. "I thank Jack for giving me an opportunity to play. I got the opportunity to play the game I'm capable of playing. I've always been a more offensive player, but the Red Wings made me more of a fourth-line checker. Ron and the coaching staff gave me every opportunity to play. I started off having a good year, then went into a slump. I'm not the first guy to go into a slump, and I picked it up lately."

Ferreira said Sillinger's effort was good, but the results weren't.

"Basically, the reason we made the deal was his production was down," Ferreira said. "We're in the stretch here and I think this guy can give us production."

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