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Deal Still Possible for Ducks

Hockey: Fifth pick in today's entry draft could be a lure for a defenseman. Kings choose 21st.

June 27, 1998|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Mighty Ducks could use a physical defenseman when they pick fifth in today's NHL entry draft at Marine Midland Arena. Or perhaps a center to play with wingers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.

The Kings could use . . . well, whatever they get, it's not going to happen until deep into the first round. They pick 21st overall.

The sad-sack Tampa Bay Lightning, who pick first, could use Wayne Gretzky in his prime. And maybe Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard too.

Tampa Bay, which won only 17 games last season, is expected to select Vincent Lecavalier, a center from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. David Legwand, a center from Detroit, is then expected to be chosen by the San Jose Sharks.

It's anyone's guess who might go next.

The Ducks, who pick after the expansion Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks, desperately need help on defense. But they also covet center Manny Malhotra of Guelph, Canada, of the Ontario Hockey League.

"It's a great place," Malhotra said of Southern California. "There's always something to do there." Of the possibility of one day playing with Kariya and Selanne, he said, "That would be a dream come true."

General Manager Jack Ferreira indicated he might be willing to trade his first-round pick, which would be a first for the organization. Acquiring a veteran defenseman figures to be the key to any potential deal.

"I think I know how things are going to go," Ferreira said when asked if he has an idea of who might be available if he doesn't trade the pick. "I asked our scouts to give me five names of players to draft that they were comfortable with."

The Kings' selection is less certain, according to General Manager Dave Taylor. He wouldn't say whom he has in mind.

"It's a little different for us," Taylor said. "[In the past], we were picking third overall for a while. Our philosophy is to take the best player available."

It might be Mike Van Ryn, a defenseman from London, Canada, or Simon Gagne, a center from Ancienne-Lorette, Canada. Or maybe Milan Kraft, a center from the Czech Republic.

But picking that far back, even Taylor is unsure.

NHL Notes

Add former King coach Barry Melrose to the list of candidates to replace Pierre Page as Mighty Duck coach. General Manager Jack Ferreira said he expects to interview Melrose, an analyst for ESPN, next week. This week Ferreira talked with former Chicago Blackhawk coach Craig Hartsburg and minor-league coaches John Anderson of the IHL champion Chicago Wolves and Butch Goring of the IHL's Utah Grizzlies. Ice Dog Coach John VanBoxmeer also is expected to be interviewed.

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