The Pond hosted 15 of the league's pro scouts at the start of the Ducks' seven game homestand, a contingent that caused LA Times writer Helene Elliott to predict a vastly revamped roster before the team left for Dallas this week. Yet, one game before their departure, the roster remains the same, or at least, unaffected by trade.
Daniel, it's tough to get a deal done in November, but assuming a trade fell through or Murray's finger eased off the trigger, do you think the Ducks GM should still spend the month of December trying to make a move?
Yes, I think the Ducks need to make a move in December in order to completely right the ship and start thinking about the playoffs. A quick glance at the standings places the Ducks at 13th in the conference, but only 7 points out of 8th. That's only 4 wins. Yes, there are a few teams still to jump, but if we've endured our worst stretch of the season, some of those teams haven't seen theirs yet, and therefore, can be overtaken in the standings.
I think the game last night exposed the Ducks two key needs: secondary scoring and a solid defensive defenseman. I've really enjoyed the dynamic play of The Incredibles, but that line just isn't producing. After some 7 games together, the trio has generated just one goal. Selanne's numbers are inflated from power play scoring. Maybe Lupul solves this problem by providing a dangerous third line with March and Noks, so a trade might not be necessary for scoring.
However, last night the Ducks gave up a rebound goal and then Boynton deflected in the game winner. The Ducks don't have a legitimate shut down defender. Sadly, there aren't a lot of options out there. If he was healthy and the Coyotes weren't playing so well, I think my top choice would be the very affordable Kurt Sauer. Otherwise, reports have surfaced that the Canes are shopping Aaron Ward. Ward has been known to be a little injury prone, but a change of scenery could improve his play, and he'll come at a lower price. Also the Islanders have been given the go-ahead to add talent, so maybe we could get Brendan Witt for a veteran forward like Marchant or swing a bigger deal involving Lupul.
Although I think the real rewards can be reaped in Washington. The impending raises due for the likes of Semin, Fleischmann, and Backstrom this summer, and Varlamov the summer after that means that paying Pothier, Poti, and Greene will be almost impossible. In that case, maybe a swap involving Wisniewski for Poti or Pothier might actually help both clubs. No matter what, one of these two needs has to be addressed soon if the Ducks want to compete this year. Otherwise, let's start examining picks 10-15, because we'll only be good enough to miss the playoffs.
You know, with long term injuries to Ryan Carter, Joffrey Lupul and now Kyle Calder, I don't know if December is the time for Anaheim to be shipping off healthy bodies. Yes, we would be getting healthy bodies in return, but that definitely takes us into a 'devil we don't know' discussion. I don't know if Murray is as comfortable losing Marchant today as he was two weeks ago, and with two rookies in the Bottom 6, maybe he shouldn't be.
That doesn't mean that I think the Ducks GM is, or should be, content with the way his team played on this homestand. They took three potential wins to overtime and have definitely shown flashes of the same checkered effort and affinity for implosion that dropped this squad to the dregs of the Western Conference in the first place. This is a team that can still benefit from the infusion of new blood, or even just the extraction of one of their own. Until there's a consistent 60-minute effort on the ice, no one should be safe.
But maybe Murray can get through this long December on the road without pulling the trigger. That would give Carter and Lupul some time to heal, maybe give Jiggy and Hiller some more time to pose for the scouts, but most of all, it would put Murray back in the driver's seat for trade negotiations. Two weeks ago, the scouts attended a feeding frenzy, but the closer we get to March, the more Murray is just fishing.