Penguins deal Straka to Kings
By Karen Price
Published: Monday, December 1, 2003
The Penguins traded Martin Straka to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday evening, ending months of rumors and speculation that the high-priced forward was headed out of town.
In return, they acquired 19-year-old left winger Sergei Anshakov, a teammate of 2003 No. 4 overall draft pick Nikolai Zherdev with HC-CSKA of the Russian Superleague, and 28-year-old defenseman Martin Strbak, who's appeared in 12 games this season with the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H.
General manager Craig Patrick said that Straka's contract, which pays him $4.35 million this year and $4.7 million next year, was not the primary reason for the trade. But it is the latest and likely the last move of the Penguins' rebuilding process, which began in earnest with last year's trade of Alexei Kovalev to the New York Rangers.
"Finances are always a factor, but we were looking at it as Marty wasn't going to be with us long term in the stage we're in," Patrick said. "We wanted to get someone who could help us now, and someone who could be with us now and in the long term. We'll also be able to use one of our younger forwards to take Marty's ice time and help us with our development."
Strbak will join the team today but is not expected to play tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers. Patrick said they expect to have Anshakov, the Kings' second round pick in 2002 (50th overall), within the next year or two.
A call-up from Wilkes-Barre is also a possibility, although Patrick said they have not yet discussed it and are waiting for news on leading scorer Rico Fata, who injured his knee against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. He will be reevaluated today.
Patrick said the deal with Los Angeles came about relatively quickly.
"We had discussions with Los Angeles before, but I didn't think they were going anywhere," he said. "We had a conversation (Saturday), and we were pleased with what we were able to get in return."
The Kings, who were already missing six players including Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh, recently placed leading scorer Ziggy Palffy on injured reserve with a facial injury after he was struck by a puck.
Straka, 31, had four goals and eight assists in 22 games with the Penguins this year, and had not scored a goal in 14 games. He said last night that he wasn't surprised by the trade.
"For sure I know they have some financial difficulties in Pittsburgh," he said. "(Robert) Lang was the first guy, then Kovalev, so I knew something was going on. I was just waiting and they finally did it.
"I love Pittsburgh, I've been here several years and I love the organization, it's a great bunch of guys from the management to the players, so it's going to be hard to leave those guys. But I think it's time to leave. I haven't been playing well lately, and I think it's time to go."
The trade frees up enough money that the Penguins can now afford to keep goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with the team for the duration of the season, however Patrick said the two were not related.
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