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Young Pros Will Get Shot in Early Going

October 08, 2002|Chris Foster

Youth over experience is the Mighty Duck plan, at least as they start the regular season.

Samuel Pahlsson, who began last season centering the Ducks' top line, was reassigned to minor league Cincinnati on Monday.

Veterans Jason York, Denny Lambert and German Titov were shipped out last week.

Rookie forwards Stanislav Chistov and Alexei Smirnov made the team. So did Jason Krog, a center who has played 26 NHL games.

"We're keeping the young players to see how they are," General Manager Bryan Murray. "But they got to get playing time. If they appear not to be getting the minutes, we'll make a decision at that time."

The Ducks are left with only one immediate roster decision, which will depend on the availability of defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski. If Vishnevski, who has tendinitis in his right knee, can play in Thursday's opener, then either Josh DeWolf or Chris O'Sullivan will be sent to Cincinnati.

Defenseman Pavel Trnka (strained groin) has resumed skating, but is expected to start the season on injured reserve.

He may be ready for the Ducks' home opener against Detroit on Sunday.

Pahlsson began last season on the first line, along with Paul Kariya and Timo Parssinen, who was let go and is back in Finland. Pahlsson appeared in 80 games last season and was a solid defensive player who scored only six goals.

Whether Pahlsson was a victim of the higher level of talent in the organization or merely had a so-so training camp, Coach Mike Babcock would not say.

"It might be that [there's more talent]," he said. "It might say something about training camp. One would say that was the state of the organization, a pessimist would say that's what training camp showed."

Krog, meanwhile, went to camp as a longshot. He is generously listed at 5 feet 11, but outworked others to earn a spot as a fourth-line center. Marc Chouinard, the line's center last season, will split time at center and the wing.

Whether Chistov and Smirnov fit there remains to be seen.

"You got to ask yourself how many kids can you play?" Babcock said.

He will play one, in defenseman Kurt Sauer, coming from juniors to the NHL. Sauer will be paired with veteran Keith Carney, the Ducks' top defenseman.


York, one of three veterans pushed out during camp, was also reassigned to Cincinnati. He is owed $4-million over the next two seasons, which played into his minor league assignment.

The fates of Lambert and Titov are still to be determined. They could be reassigned to another minor league team or a buyout could be negotiated. Titov is owed $1.5-million this season. Lambert is owed $550,000 this season and $600,000 in 2003-04.

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