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Penguins trade Zubov for K. Hatcher

ST. LOUIS, June 22 -- The talent-laden Pittsburgh Penguins made a move to add strength and size Saturday by trading offensive defenseman Sergei Zubov to the Dallas Stars in exchange for rugged blueliner Kevin Hatcher. Zubov, who will be playing for his third team in three years, enjoyed a fine season in Pittsburgh after being dealt by the New York Rangers last summer. The 25-year-old native of Moscow, scored 11 goals and had 55 assists for 66 points in 64 regular-season games. Known as a player who will take chances to create a scoring opportunity, Zubov was one of the Penguins' best players in the playoffs, scoring once and totaling 14 assists in 18 postseason games. Zubov appeared to blend in well with Pittsburgh's offensive style, gaining head coach Ed Johnston's confidence, which led to enormous amounts of ice time in the playoffs. In the Penguins' 3-2 quadruple- overtime victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs, Zubov was on the ice for 89 of the game's 139 minutes. Zubov figures to add potency to the Stars' listless offense, which averaged only 2.8 goals a game and was ranked 23rd in the league in scoring. Zubov, who has 41 goals, 181 assists and 222 points in 229 career games, had 77 assists and 89 points for the New York Rangers in 1993-94. In return, Pittsburgh gives up some youth in landing the 29-year-old 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hatcher. An 11-year veteran, Hatcher averaged just over 16 goals and 47 points per season in his first nine years with the Washington Capitals.

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However, the big-hitting blueliner scored only 25 goals and 71 points in 121 games with Dallas. A vereran of 806 NHL games, Hatcher was expected to excel alongside his brother Derian, a 6-4, 225-pound, 24-year-old defenseman. But, Derian had a subpar year and Dallas chose to part with his $2.2 million salary. In terms of payroll, Kevin Hatcher ranked second on the team in salary. Zubov is scheduled to earn $1.6 million this season. Hatcher was rumored to be dealt at the March 20 trade deadline, but the Stars were reluctant to pull the trigger. Afterward, Hatcher completed a forgetful season by committing several defensive errors in a one-sided home loss to Winnipeg on March 26. After that game, which finalized the Stars' fate of missing the playoffs, Hatcher was a healthy scratch for only the second time in his career.

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