Caps draft new strategy, deal Savage, MacDermid and Cavallini HOCKEY

June 21, 1993|By Brian Fishman | Brian Fishman,Staff Writer

Reggie Savage showed he could play in the American Hockey League during his three seasons in Baltimore, scoring 111 goals.

But the Skipjacks' right wing never impressed Washington Capitals management enough to stick with the NHL club for any extended period. So rather than allow Savage to be taken in Thursday's expansion draft -- and he wasn't going to be protected -- the Capitals dealt their former No. 1 draft pick (15th overall in 1988) to the Quebec Nordiques yesterday in one of two transactions completed hours before teams had to freeze their rosters for the draft.

Washington traded Savage and right wing Paul MacDermid to the Nordiques for left wing Mike Hough. The Capitals also traded defenseman Paul Cavallini to the Dallas Stars for future considerations, which will be determined after the draft.

Capitals general manager David Poile said that all three Capitals were not going to be protected and he believed that Savage's offensive potential and his age (23) would make him appealing to Anaheim or Florida.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Poile said. "We had hoped for better things from Reggie but it just didn't work out."

In adding Hough, a 30-year-old defensive forward, Poile is gambling that his age will keep him from being taken.

For Savage, his tenure in the Capitals organization was one of frustration. Even yesterday he couldn't figure out what had gone wrong.

"I was very relieved and very happy," he said when reached at his home in Montreal. "I have confidence in myself and my ability to play with Quebec, or any team for that matter. I believe in myself. I know I could've played in Washington."

Savage opened last season with the Capitals, but his stay lasted just three games.

"First of all, I had no opportunity," he said. "In those three games, I played five and six minutes each night."

In mid-November, Savage returned to the Capitals. He scored his first NHL goal on a penalty shot Nov. 18 and added another goal two days later, but Savage was sent down to the Skipjacks before the month ended.

"I love Washington and Baltimore," Savage said. "My 2 1/2 years in Baltimore were great. The fans there treated me really well, but I don't think too many people understood what was happening with me. I couldn't tell them. I didn't know the answer myself."

When the Capitals lost their Patrick Division semifinal series to the New York Islanders in six games -- three of the losses in overtime -- Savage wondered why his scoring skills were overlooked.

"The team was struggling in the playoffs to get offense," said Savage. "That's my type of game and it's been that way ever since I was in juniors. Sooner or later I thought they would use me, but it never came up."

Hough had eight goals and 30 assists last year. His best season offensively was 1991-92, when he had 38 points on 16 goals and 22 assists.

MacDermid, 30, scored nine goals and added eight assists in 72 games for Washington in a mostly checking role. Cavallini, 27, came over to the Capitals from St. Louis for Kevin Miller on Nov. 1 and had five goals and seven assists in 71 games.

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