By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 49 – February 14, 1995 – The Sabres trade Grant Fuhr, Philippe Boucher, and Denis Tsygurov to Los Angeles for Alexei Zhitnik, Charlie Huddy, Robb Stauber, and a fifth-round draft choice in 1995 (Marian Menhart).
An unexpected development led to the good-sized trade between the Sabres and Kings. Buffalo had acquired Grant Fuhr earlier in the decade to shore up its goaltending situation, and he had done that job. But Dominik Hasek then turned into, well, Dominik Hasek when given the chance because of an injury to Fuhr. There was no way that Hasek was going to be sitting on the bench, and Fuhr – who had played so well in Edmonton – deserved a better fate than that too.
From there, it was a matter of finding a trading partner, and the Kings stepped up. Kelly Hrudey’s play was starting to slide downhill, and superstar Wayne Gretzky knew what Fuhr could do from their days together with Edmonton. The bait was Alexei Zhitnik, a promising defenseman. The Sabres also needed to add Phillippe Boucher, a former first-round pick. Buffalo needed a backup goalie with Fuhr gone, so Robb Stauber fit that description.
Fuhr won one game with the Kings and then signed with St. Louis as a free agent. Zhitnik stayed in Buffalo for nine seasons, and usually was one of the team’s best defensemen. Boucher made the deal at least respectable for the Kings, playing eight years in Los Angeles – half of a 16-year career.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)