MONTREAL, JUNE 20 -- Choosing to save money and gain youth, the Washington Capitals today traded 31-year-old right wing Dino Ciccarelli to Detroit for 26-year-old forward Kevin Miller -- brother of the Capitals' Kelly -- thereby ending a thrilling but controversial Washington stay for Ciccarelli.

Kevin Miller -- a New York Ranger until he went to the Red Wings in the Joe Kocur deal in March 1991 -- had 20 goals and 26 assists last season. That was one fewer assist than he had in '90-91, his first full season in the NHL.

Despite serious off-ice problems, no Capital drew louder applause than Ciccarelli, principally because he played hard and scored 112 goals in just over three seasons. He also had 21 goals in 30 playoff games.

"I put my butt on the line for the organization and did what I had to do to win," Ciccarelli said from his home near Annapolis. "The numbers proved that, let alone the scars on my face."

Ciccarelli was the Capitals' leading goal scorer in two of the three full seasons he played after being traded with Bob Rouse from Minnesota on March 7, 1989 for Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy. Bryan Murray, the Capitals' coach at the time, now is the Red Wings' coach and general manager.

Ciccarelli was traded from Minnesota soon after pleading guilty to an indecent exposure charge. In Washington, Ciccarelli was one of four Capitals implicated in a 1990 incident in Georgetown, in which a 17-year-old woman accused three of the players of raping her in a limousine following a team party. A District of Columbia grand jury decided not to indict any of the players. Ciccarelli was the last of the four still on the team.

Plenty of fans were upset by the incident, and some of them declined to renew season tickets. But if concern for public opinion was the issue, Ciccarelli could have been traded that summer. (Geoff Courtnall requested and a received a trade that summer.) Instead, the team made statements defending Ciccarelli.

Today's trade was about money.

Ciccarelli was entering the option year of his contract and he wanted to be the highest-paid player on the team. That would have meant a contract worth around $1 million. The Capitals, with one of the lowest payrolls in the league, have no one scheduled to make $1 million next season and didn't want to start with Ciccarelli.

"What someone wants and what someone gets are sometimes two different things," General Manager David Poile said during today's NHL draft at The Forum, where the Capitals used a first-round pick to select Russian defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Said Poile: "We talked at the end of the year about where we felt we wanted to go, we both decided he'd probably move. I called Ron Salcer {Ciccarelli's agent} and said it was in our best interests to move Dino."

When asked Friday night if he was close to any trade, Poile said, "There is nothing that is imminent." Obviously, there was. Both Salcer and Red Wings Coach-General Manager Bryan Murray said they had discussed a future contract before the deal was made.

"There's no question in my mind that {salary} is what it was about," Ciccarelli said. "They decided to go with a younger guy with less of a contract. They had not even tried to negotiate a number. We called them and wanted to do it early, so it didn't go into training camp. But the only response we got from them was they were evaluating personnel. After three phone calls, they called Ron and indicated to him that they were trying to trade me."

Ciccarelli was not angry. In fact, he was somewhat pleased by the move, because of the money and the chance to play for Bryan Murray and with two of the game's best centers, Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov.

"I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, because I like being in Washington. People and fans were good to me and my family," Ciccarelli said. "But I am real excited. Bryan was the guy who was really interested in getting me from Minnesota. I think I had a better relationship with him than I had with {Capitals Coach Terry Murray}, though I don't think there were problems with Terry."

The Capitals now have two pairs of brothers. Dale Hunter's brother, Mark, was acquired Monday from Hartford for left wing Nick Kypreos. Kevin is one of three Miller boys in the NHL. Kelly, who has been with the Capitals since 1987, was a senior at Michigan State when Kevin was a freshman. Kip -- youngest of the three -- is with Minnesota.

Miller will play wing with the Capitals. "Kevin Miller is a good hockey player and I liked him when he played with the Rangers," Terry Murray said. "Certainly, I hope he can score some goals."

Capitals Notes: The team's other draft picks were center Stefan Ustorf of Germany, right wing Martin Gendron of St. Hyacinthe of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, left wing John Varga of Chicago and Tacoma of the Western Hockey League (WHL), defenseman Mark Matier of Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, left wing Mike Mathers of Kamloops (WHL), right wing Brian Stagg of North Bay (OHL), defenseman Greg Callahan of Belmont Hill High School in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and left wing Billy Jo MacPherson of Oshawa (OHL).

Year......Team.........GP.....G.....A.....Pts.....PM

KEVIN MILLER

88-89.....Rangers......24.....3.....5.....8........2

89-90.....Rangers......16.....0.....5.....5........2

90-91.....Rangers......63.....17....27....44......63

90-91.....Detroit......11.....5.....2.....7........4

91-92.....Detroit......80.....20....26....46......53

Totals.................194....46....65....111....124

DINO CICCARELLI

80-81.....Minn.........32.....18....12.....30.....29

81-82.....Minn.........76.....55....51.....106...138

82-83.....Minn.........77.....37....38.....75.....94

83-84.....Minn.........79.....38....33.....71.....58

84-85.....Minn.........51.....15....17.....32.....41

85-86.....Minn.........75.....44....45.....89.....51

86-87.....Minn.........80.....52....51.....103....88

87-88.....Minn.........67.....41....45.....86.....79

88-89.....Minn.........65.....32....27.....59.....64

88-89.....Wash.........11.....12....3......15.....12

89-90.....Wash.........80.....41....38.....79....122

90-91.....Wash.........54.....21....18.....39.....66

91-92.....Wash.........78.....38....38.....76.....78

Totals.................825....444...416....860...920