Right wing John Druce knew he might not be in the plans of the Washington Capitals. Yesterday afternoon, he sat in the locker room after practice and talked about how he had "to make the Caps want me." He hoped he could pull it off tonight and tomorrow in the last two exhibition games of the NHL preseason.
Instead, when the Caps play the Skipjacks, their AHL farm team, tonight at the Arena, Druce will be packing for Winnipeg.
Last night, Druce was traded to the Jets for right wing Pat Elynuik, who has scored at least 25 goals in each of the last four seasons.
"It's a deal that makes sense for us," Capitals general manager David Poile said. "John wasn't playing on our top four lines, and Elynuik is capable of 30 or more goals a season. He's a much more accomplished and different type of player. So I think it can be a good trade for us, and it can be good for John, too."
Druce came to the attention of Capitals fans when he set or tied 10 team records in the 1990 postseason, during which the Caps went to the Stanley Cup semifinals -- the farthest they've gone in the playoffs. But during the past two seasons, his play, even by his own assessment, has been inconsistent. Elynuik, on the other hand, led the Jets in goals in 1989-90 and 1990-91 and was second last season, despite playing in only 60 games.
Jets' assistant general manager Dennis McDonald said Elynuik, 24, has been good for the Jets organization, but with the several other right wingers, including Ed Olczyk and Teemu Selanne, a new acquisition from Finland, Winnipeg also needed "a different JTC kind of player."
"Pat was a good organization man with a good scoring touch,McDonald said. "If you look at his stats, you'll see he was on a 30-goal-per-year pace. That's the kind of player he is. But with Olczyk and Selanne coming on, we think we needed a different kind of player, and we think John Druce will give us a dimension we lacked."
McDonald said the Jets need Druce's grittiness. "We like hiwork ethic and the way he takes on responsibility in his own zone," McDonald said. "He works defensively, and he's got good intensity."
Druce's scoring fell off to 19 goals and 18 assists last year.
"After that playoff year, the team expected me to be a 30-plus goal scorer, and I expected it, too," Druce said. "But I haven't been able to achieve that yet. I played well [in the middle of] last season, but I didn't finish well, and I haven't had a great camp. . . . In the back of my mind, I knew I could be traded, but I tried not to think about it."
NOTES: D Kevin Hatcher (right groin) skated yesterday afternoon for the first time in three days, but did not join in the team's regular morning practice. Coach Terry Murray said he probably would hold Hatcher out of both preseason games this weekend in hopes of having him ready for Tuesday night's opener in Toronto. . . . The Caps assigned D Shawn Anderson to the Skipjacks and added his name to the list of seven unprotected players for Sunday's waiver draft. Anderson is one of three players who have been assigned to the Jacks who are on the list. F Steve Seftel and D Bob Babcock are the other two.
Caps in waiver draft
The Capitals have left seven players unprotected in the NHL waiver draft:
2(Player. . . .................. Position
Shawn Anderson. .. . .................D
Bob Babcock. ........................ D
Ken Sabourin. ....................... D
Jeff Greenlaw. ..................... LW
Mark Hunter. ....................... RW
Yvon Corriveau...................... LW
Steve Seftel. ...................... LW
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Site: Baltimore Arena, 7:35
Tickets: Plenty available for this exhibition game.