The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Ducks have two new defenders coming to Southern California. Arthur, you and I have been pretty vocal critics of GM Bob Murray, his ability to give away prospects without getting much in return and his seemingly lost-in-the-woods acquisitions that don't seem to fit our team. So, in your estimation, did Murray have a good deadline day, or were these just superfluous moves to save his job?
Well, I think every move on a struggling team is a move to save a GM's job, but I do think that Bob Murray had a good deadline day.
My primary problem with Murph is that he has a very limited eye for talent, but he still insists on being a bull market GM. As such, he often loses his shirt on guys that most people know, going in, aren't going to work out for him. These guys aren't bums, but Anaheim just isn't the place for guys like Christensen, Whitney, Boynton, or Wisniewski. Just as Chicago wasn't the place for Wendel Clark in '99. But yesterday, Murph finally showed me the difference between the GM he is now and the GM he was in Chicago. He is still going to make epically bad moves, but he's not going to run one bad move into another until he's buying out Wendel Clark. This version of Murph is committed to digging himself out of trouble by moving what he's got, NOT by throwing good money after bad.
There was a real measured approach to his moves over the last few days. He didn't just throw Burke's assets out the window like he did last year, and like Burke did with Bryan Murray's before him. Murph sat down with what he had and the mistakes he had made, and he created the picks and the money to get things done. It may not work out the way he hopes, but we're no longer stuck with Whitney or Boynton. And hopefully, we won't be stuck paying Wisniewski. So, other than sending prospects out the window last year and completely misjudging this defensive corps at camp this year, Murph is back to square one in my book.
I also want to say, in defense of Murph, that his supporting cast has let him down on occasion. The front office is a a team as much as the product on the ice. Murph proved that himself by insisting on Beauchemin in the Fedorov trade. This year, Rick Paterson was wrong about Artyukhin, or at least wrong about how much leeway he would get playing for the most notorious team in the league, and Carlyle may still be wrong about Eminger. David McNab has bailed the team out with his acquisition of Dan Sexton, but generally, everything has to come together to make Murray's job easier. It hasn't so far.
I have to agree that he had a good deadline day. I also agree that we saw a different Bob Murray this deadline than we did last deadline. I know I'm the bigger critic of James Wisniewski on this blog, but I'm glad Murray didn't trade him. If for no other reason than it shows that Murray doesn't ALWAYS have to get assets for players that he might not keep. More importantly, he accurately evaluated our needs and filled them. Ward was an important pick up for a team that is still not killing penalties efficiently. Visnovsky will shoot. He won't think about shooting like Wisniewski does and Whitney did while he was here. He will shoot, and he will get it on net. He will also make for a sturdier option on the first PP unit as the high man, the quarterback, something we desperately need, because Niedermayer, Whitney and Wisniewski were not it.
Last year, I saw an irrational Murray make a lot of deals because he didn't want to lose important assets. I still believe he jumped at too many offers just to put his stamp on this team as quickly as possible. I agree that he has done sufficient work to alleviate those errors. I also know that I have been critical of Murray in saying that there hasn't been a top down vision of what the on ice product should be. I think Murray is taking steps to rectify that, and it began this deadline with his goaltending moves. By picking up the likes of Joey McDonald and Curtis McElhinney, and essentially commiting to Pielmeier as the goalie of the future of Pogge, Murray has eliminated the butterfly style from the Anaheim goaltending pipeline. His acquisition of Visnovsky and his hesitation to move Wiz lead me to believe that he doesn't mind having smaller defenders who play more offense, something Burke was a little less willing to do with the exception of Bergeron.
I don't know if I like everything that Murray did or has done. I still have some concerns about paying Visnovsky until he's 36 years old, and whether or not his body will last that long, but at 3M on that last year, maybe that's okay. However, I think Murray used this deadline to send a message that this is his team and he is working to provide it with all the tools he deems necessary. He gets some slack from me, but this offseason is really going to be the final word on how far Murray has come since they fired him in Chicago.