Adding some “size” and “sandpaper” to their forward corps, the Ducks dealt Drew Miller and a third-round draft pick in 2010 to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Evgeny Artyukhin on Thursday.
Artyukhin appeared in his second NHL season with the Lightning in 2008-09, scoring 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) with 151 penalty minutes in 73 games. The 6-foot-4, 254-pound winger set career highs in goals, appearances and PIM while leading the team in hits (249) and PIM.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray said on a conference call Thursday that he had discussed trading for Artyukhin at the trade deadline in March, and again on the second day of the entry draft in June. Artyukhin is due $1 million on a contract that expires next June.
“We had changed our team a little bit, moved some things around. We lost our size and some sandpaper,” Murray said. “He’s a guy we’ve identified for a while now. He’s more than just a big man out there … he has some talent.”
In addition to trading 6-foot-6 defenseman Chris Pronger, the Ducks lost gritty blueliner Francois Beauchemin to free agency and are unlikely to resign 6-2 checker Rob Niedermayer. Artyukhin joins a group that includes holdovers Todd Marchant, Ryan Carter, Mike Brown, Petteri Nokelainen, George Parros, Erik Christensen, Troy Bodie and Andrew Ebbett that figure to be in the running for the Ducks’ final six forward positions.
As is custom, Murray said he would leave to Randy Carlyle the decision of where Artyukhin fits into the team’s forward corps. The GM did go so far as to compare Artyukhin to Travis Moen, who only appeared in 39 games during his first season in Anaheim (2005-06) after arriving in a trade from Chicago but, “once he figured out what Randy wanted, the rest was history.”
A former third-round draft pick (94th overall) in 2001, Artyukhin has played two seasons with the Lightning (2005-06 and 2008-09). In 145 career NHL games, the Moscow native has collected 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) with 241 PIM. In January 2003, he helped Team Russia capture gold at the 2003 World Junior Championships in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, recording a goal and 10 penalty minutes in six games.
For Miller, the trade ends a six-year run with the Anaheim organization that began when the Ducks selected him in the sixth round of the 2003 entry draft. Last season was his most productive as an NHL player, when he appeared in 27 regular-season games and had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists). He played in all 13 playoff games with the Ducks, posting two goals and an assist.
Miller also had 23 goals and 38 points in 53 games in the American Hockey League, where he spent parts of three seasons following a three-year career at Michigan State. Murray said that the Lightning targeted Miller specifically on their end of the trade.
“He had a good run here with us,” Murray said. “(Shuffling between the AHL and NHL) was a bit unfair to Drew, and he handled it well.”