The Ducks' effort tonight did little to alleviate the pain for the fowl fans, but it did improve their chances for a Top 5 pick. By giving up 3 goals before the game was half over, the Ducks have continued their recent trend of poor/unlucky defensive efforts. We've already talked about getting the rookies a little ice time in order to prepare for next season, but there's no way all of these problems on our backend can be solved with a few rookies. Arthur, the Ducks are going to HAVE to sign a free agent D-man this summer of some kind. Who's your nominee?
The correct answer is Anton Volchenkov. I know Ottawa wants him back, and I don't know what his asking price is, but he's the only player that makes sense to me. Those hits last night were crushing, and I'm not willing to fault him for either of them. The first was a clean hit and on the second, he was really trying to follow through on what he thought would be a clean hit. But it's that drive to decimate forwards that the Ducks are missing. Volchenkov has that in spades.
Will we end up overpaying for him? Of course. Whether or not he wants more from Ottawa, he'll want more on the free agent market. It will cost us. But we're the rare team where it's entirely worth it. We are so severely lacking in defensive defense that we're operating on an economy where whatever he asks for is reasonable. We need some sandpaper on the blueline, and this guy is 40-grit. He's a young (28), explosive player, and if we can get that, every other defenseman can be offensive for all I care.
There are a lot of good options out there for the Ducks. I've been name dropping Shane O'Brien all over the comment boards, and I still think he's the best option. He's only making 1.6 this year and I can't imagine he's due for a huge raise. Essentially, we'd get a solid defensive defenseman, +16, who can play the 15-20 mins needed, for Wiz's money, or less. O'Brien is Sheldon Brookbank squared. He's got the size to clear the net and punish the Western Conference forwards who have taken up residence in our crease. He might not be the best defensive defenseman out there; but at the price we'll pay, it's hard to say it wouldn't be worth it, especially since we probably won't be able to unload Lupul or Blake this summer, and we definitely don't need both.
Special shout out goes to Ian White who is an RFA out of Calgary via Toronto. He's definitely not as big as Shane O'Brien, and I haven't seen him play as much. However, what I have heard is very good. He plays hard and doesn't quit on plays. He makes things happen on defense. He might be a little more expensive than Shane, but probably not so much that we'll be sacrificing a first-round pick. I don't think we get him if we can lock up Shane O'Brien, but he is an interesting guy to look at considering his intangibles.