I suppose since I'm the Murray hater around here it falls to me to explain why. I am increasingly discouraged by Anaheim fans who seem to think the only thing that matters is the current year. Bob Murray has been fortunate enough to fall onto a productive roster. He's shown zero creativity as a GM, frequently resorting to Selanne's reputation and the Pronger formula to generate his best moves.
My problem with Murray comes back to one consistent problem; he wastes assets. Murray would pay $50,000 for a car, trade it for a $30,000 car and then use that $30,000 car and another $30,000 to get a $50,000 car. Sound ridiculous? It is. I've gotten the impression that a lot of people don't understand this concept, so I'm going to try to take the time to explain it as best as I can. If you look at the team he inherited, then Murray's incompetency becomes clear when you realize that he, essentially, only managed to turn Chris Pronger, Jake Gardiner, and a fourth round pick into Luca Sbisa and two first round picks. Full analysis after the jump.
The Pronger Jr. trade that brought Beauchemin back to Anaheim has helped me put Murray's wasteful ways into perspective. Arthur has already discussed how he wasted Tangradi. I want to follow a few events and discover exactly how Murray wasted so many resources.
Murray's moves seemed to be fairly productive when they helped propel us to a game 7 against Detroit in the Conference semis. In fact, it wasn't until the offseason where we started to learn how simple Mr. Murray was. On day one of the NHL Draft, Murray traded Chris Pronger for exactly the same price that Burke acquired him. There's something to be said for getting equal return on a player investment. But, it's always bothered me that Murray didn't try to think outside the box.
I was very happy with the player Lupul had become, and he amazed me for that brief stint he enjoyed on the top line. Still, If Murray would have taken the picks off the table and flipped Pronger for maybe Jeff Carter and Sbisa, then that still would have been a home run of a deal. Of course we have now learned that Murray can't effectively negotiate a contract, and therefore probably wasn't interested in handling RFAs Carter and Bobby Ryan. But take a second and picture Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, and Saku Koivu as our top 3 centers. That's just sexy. For those of you doing the math at home, Murray has now turned Pronger into Lupul, Sbisa and two first round picks.
Later that summer, Murray decides he can't insult Beauchemin with a contract offer, and lets him walk without so much as a phone call. He then turns and spends Beauchemin's 3.8 million on 2.75 for Wis, 1.5 for Eminger and 1 for Boynton. I'm not a math major, but I think that's more than 3.8. Murray could have signed Beauchemin and Boynton and spent less money. Instead, he breaks up his top pairing from a Cup winning team, and keeps the guy who probably led Scott Niedermayer to an early retirement. Some might argue that he fixed his mistake when he reacquired Beauchemin a few weeks ago. But how do we regain the lost season? How do the Samuelis get back playoff revenue that they might have gotten if Beauchemin never leaves? How do we recover the lost games this year as Beauchemin adjusts to a lineup he should have never left?
While you're contemplating that, let's talk about that Beauchemin trade. Toronto gets Lupul, Jake Gardiner, and a sixth round pick for Beauchemin. So, Murray moves a 20 goal-scorer and a very strong prospect for a defenseman he could have, and should have had, for free. I know people think Gardiner is a question mark, but everyone agrees the kid can skate, and his offensive performance this year means he can be the productive offensive force the Ducks drafted from the back end. When I hear a defenseman can skate, the only question after that is whether or not he has decent hockey sense. If he's even marginally smart, he can probably figure out enough to be a productive NHL defender.
So, Let's reassess the Pronger trade. If you think of this trade as an analysis of Murray's ability to acquire new assets to help the club, then we can't take Beauchemin as part of the equation. Murray had Beauchemin, so it's not good to calculate him as an asset that Murray acquired in a Pronger trade. That means Murray moved a Hall of Fame defenseman, a definite NHL player, and potential top 4 defenseman and a top 6 pick for a top 4 defenseman and two first round picks. If you need the names to provide clarity, the Pronger deal now looks like this.
Chris Pronger, Jake Gardiner, 6th round pick for Luca Sbisa and two first round picks. Not exactly a good deal for the Ducks.
Some of you might be thinking, "yeah, but those two picks are Palmieri and Etem, two potential 30 goal scorers." To that I say, you can't calculate the value of a trade based on the players the picks become. That's like selling a baseball card for a $100, putting it in the bank until it becomes $1,000 and saying you sold the baseball card for $1,000. That's not an accurate representation of the value of your asset. Your ability to turn that money into something else is not indicative of the true value of what you are selling. When a GM asks for a draft pick, the only thing that affects its value is the position in the draft, because it is impossible to know who you will select until the draft.
Even then, I would argue that the Draft this year was another key reason we can't trust Murray. Fowler fell into his lap. As soon as he saw Fowler drop to the 8-10 range, Burke would have tried to trade up to make sure that he got that caliber of player. The same could be said of Etem. Murray could have made a huge splash by trading up and making sure that he got Etem. The Ducks would have upstaged the host Kings in their building. The Ducks still got Etem, but Murray sat, waited and got lucky, just like he did with Fowler. He clearly doesn't have what it takes to make a daring trade. Murray would have never made the first Pronger trade that Burke did. Murray can't make the trades that will make this team a Cup winner.
Murray's tenure in Anaheim has seen him waste more players than he acquires. Not only did he get fleeced in handling the assets associated with moving Pronger, but what about all the steps he took to find a replacement for Pronger? Those moves cost us Tangradi and an extra draft pick. O'Dell was used to get Christensen, and what did we get for Christensen? Murray bleeds assets, and he can't negotiate a contract. He used the OC Register as a tool to force Bobby Ryan into the role of bad guy in those contract negotiations, and still couldn't drive the price down. I know the Register likes to toe the company line, but even they have to see how bad Murray has been for us. The on-ice product may not be that bad, but it has cost the organization far too much to arrive at this current destination, still on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
I suppose it's easy to ignore players you never see wearing your team's sweater, but good organizations don't. They value each asset and gain every ounce of value for the organization possible. Murray doesn't do that. Murray has to walk around the block to get next door. How long until it costs us someone valuable that has been in an Anaheim sweater? How long until he does Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf the same way he did Chris Chelios? He now has four years to try, and, apparently, Anaheim fans couldn't be happier.