I made a serious pitch for the return of Francois Beauchemin. Today, Bob Murray granted my wish...sort of. He moved Joffrey Lupul, top prospect Jake Gardiner, ranked second in a recent ranking of top college prospects by the Western Colege Hockey Blog, and a conditional 4th round draft pick in 2013. What follows is a take on the trade from each of the contributors here at Anaheim Calling. We fall into two categories on this deal, like and dislike. Jen has the most history with Lupul, so she gets the first word.
First, everyone, CALM THE EFF DOWN. This is not the end of the world. Based on some of the reactions I've seen on Twitter, you would have thought Bob Murray took Lupul outside and shot him Old Yeller style.
I like the trade. I think it was good. Now, many of you that frequent the blog probably assume that I am pro anything that moves Lupul out of Anaheim. This is not the case. Given the right circumstances (i.e. Bobby signing with another team), Lupul could have been a huge weapon. Unfortunately, he was banished to the 3rd line with very limited minutes. The limited ice-time hampered his recovery. How can you expect a sniper like Loops to get back to full speed when he's playing half the minutes he's used to? Yes, he was slowly being eased back, but come on, it's February. The guy needs to play to get his shot back. Toronto will give him the ice time he needs, especially with Mr. All-Star Irrelevant in a slump.
To me, this is a two pronged move centered around one thing - the Benjamin's (or Beauchamins, if you will). One, I assume that Henry Samueli is seeing dwindling ticket sales and probably gave Bob an ultimatum. Put a solid winner on the ice NOW. For Samueli to BREAK EVEN on the season, he needs the Ducks to get into the second round of the playoffs. Snipers alone won't get you there. Jonas is obviously feeling the effects of taking on the most shots in the league, so his D needs an upgrade. You give up offense to get an offensive defenseman. Lupul wasn't hitting and shied away from hits. Let him snipe elsewhere. Giving up Gardiner is a bummer, but he wasn't near NHL ready. This goes back to the theme of winning NOW.
Two, Lupul's contract was a HUGE cap hit. Helene Elliot pointed out that with this move, the Ducks are now in a better financial position to sign Perry AND Getzlaf in the future. With Getzlaf getting the "C" and Bobby getting a solid deal, it was all but certain that Perry would be the one to walk because the Ducks couldn't pay for all three. At first I was ok with that, but now that Perry has become un-(explitive deleted)-believable, I was devastated. This is great insurance when going into a new CBA
I like this move. I don't think Lupul was being properly utilized and there seemed to be some organizational bias keeping him from cracking a top 6 spot. I admittedly know nothing about Gardiner, but we seem to be well stocked with capable, young defensemen. This move could bite the Ducks next season if Teemu doesn't return as we would seemingly be lacking a second-line scorer. But, in the short term, I think this shores up an area of major need without hurting us too much. It's still early in the trading season, and Murray has a little more cash and cap space now, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.
It seems Murray has finally shown his true colors. Murray fought to get Beauchemin in the Fedorov deal with Columbus. Beauchemin was his guy. Then when Francois became a free agent, Murray didn't even make a contract offer. It's one thing to get rejected if he wanted to play elsewhere; it's absurd to let a guy you fought so hard to get simply walk away without an offer. It's clear Murray has no plan or sense as a negotiator.
To make matters worse, he trades away the Western College Hockey Blog's second rated college prospect in Jake Gardiner. You can argue Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa changed the need for Gardiner within the organization, but it shouldn't have changed his price on the trade market. Murray should have gotten more for a blue chip D prospect. Murray gave up too much to get back a player he should have been able to keep in the first place.
This trade confuses me. I have to agree with Arthur on a couple points. First, it's becoming more and more apparent that Murray has no business sense. He doesn't know the value of his assets. He might be able to find a few good players, but that's not the only thing a GM does. He needs good asset control and a plan for the future. Murray has neither the former skill nor the latter plan. He let's Beauchy walk away, then absurdly overpays to bring him back. He gives up a major piece of the Pronger trade to get back an asset he can clearly afford. I'm glad he's decided that multiple Boynton's aren't the way to go, but if he was willing to give up this much, he should have gotten much more in return. At this price, we probably could have gotten Pahlsson AND Klesla from Columbus.
Second, Gardiner should have gotten us more than Beauchemin. He's probably the most valuable defensive prospect we have in the system. I really wanted Francois back, but not at this price. For Gardiner, Murray should have at least gotten a prospect in return, even if not of equal caliber. I think Murray's surplus of prospect riches has blinded him as to the value of each respective piece.
Finally, I feel bad for Lupul. He was never really given an opportunity to succeed after his injury. It was as if the Ducks limited his action to make trading him easier. What do you say to a guy who does everything you ask him to do, but can't wring extra offense out of his linemates? I understand that Joffrey is a complimentary piece on a line and can't carry the other guys, but that doesn't mean he can't score.
Lupul is an ideal trade piece and this is what happens. I was a big fan of Lupul in his early years here and was really hoping it would work out for him here. Smith-Pelley and Etem will now be given a lot of space to make this team next year. After Selanne retires, there won't be a lot of extra scoring in this organization. I hope Murray is going to use this cap space to get a top 6 guy. I suggest he call Garth Snow about Kyle Okposo. He can use one of his extra 3 defensemen to make something happen. Murray is running around in circles, and the only thing keeping the organization going forward is the surplus of riches that fell into his lap. No wonder Burke fleeced him on this trade; Burke is the reason Murray still has a job.
I'm with Jen here -- I don't truly understand the outrage of Ducks fans, but then again, I don't track prospects very well (sometimes, not at all). Jake Gardiner might be very good someday, but that day isn't today, and the Ducks need some blueline capabilities sooner rather than later. Sure, it's costly, but it's not like Anaheim doesn't have a surplus of young talented defensemen -- with Fowler and Sbisa both making the jump to the big leagues, it seems we have a lot of future with the young talent already in a Ducks uniform.
As it pertains to Joffrey Lupul, I'm glad to be out from that contract -- that, to me, is the tradeoff for giving up Gardiner. Sure, Joffrey has fought valiantly to get back into the lineup, but especially from his fixture on the 3rd line, he's grossly overpaid for what he produces. The fact that his contract extends two more seasons without any reduction in pay also factors in here -- on his best season, he might live up to that $4.25M, but it'd take a solid combination of linemates and luck to accomplish that.
I don't care much about 4th or 6th round picks in general, but that applies doubly when Brian Burke is the one doing the drafting. I am not scared of what that pick becomes in the slightest.
And with Beauchemin, we get a known and proven asset who has shown his ability to complement a smooth-skating defensive partner -- it seems he'd be a great fit with Cam Fowler, and who knows? Maybe he could cajole his old buddy Scott Niedermayer into playing a few shifts, too (I kid, kind of).
At any rate, I am solidly behind this deal -- we're dealing from an area of excess (promising d-man prospects) and ditching one of our heavier contracts in favor of an improved blueline that we can implement for the remainder of this season. I like Beauchemin, especially if he plays a role off our top pairing -- good to have you back, Frenchie.