The most exciting thing we did this off-season. - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
On the whole, the Ducks lost more talent than they gained over the long off-season.
July 1st feels like it was a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Have you forgotten who the Ducks brought in and let go over the summer (which apparently now stretches into January depending on Gary Bettman’s whims)? Here’s a quick summary of some of the notable players we’ve acquired and lost since last season ended.
Signed on July 1st to a three-year deal worth $10.5 million, Allen is your prototypical stay-at-home defenseman and will be a welcome presence on the Ducks’ blueline. Over his 12-year career, Allen has just 118 points in 601 games and is a lifetime +7. He was considered to be one of the better stay-at-home defensemen available during free agency and it will be interesting to see who Anaheim pairs him with.
Also signed on July 1st to a three-year deal (much to the chagrin of many AC’ers), the offense-first Souray is the yang to Allen’s stay-at-home yin. Presumably signed to replace the traded Lubomir Visnovsky, the 36-year-old Souray is a gamble to say the least. After living in minor league hell for the 2010-2011 season, Souray put up 21 points in 64 games last season for the Dallas Stars. He still has a monster shot (and his +11 does give me some hope), but the book on Souray is, and always has been, injuries. He’s made it to the 70-game mark only three times in his 12 professional seasons.
Viktor Fasth, G—Fasth was signed way back in May to a one-year contract and appears set to be Jonas Hiller’s backup for the 2013 season (it’s weird saying 2013 rather than 2012-2013). A veteran of the Swedish Elite League (where he won the league’s award for best goaltender the past two years), Fasth ended last season with AIK Stockholm with a 2.12 GAA and .931 save percentage. Given the truncated nature of the upcoming season, having a solid backup goaltender could be huge. The Ducks’ apparently believed they were better served with Fasth than they otherwise would have been by retaining Ellis or using Jeff Deslauriers (still on the roster). Of the off-season’s additions, Fasth probably flew under the radar the most, though he could end up playing a key role this year.
Another July 1st signee, Staubitz looks poised to take on the George Parros role of gritty fourth-liner [Ed. Note: and frequent healthy scratch]. Staubitz recorded only one point last season in 62 games with the Canadiens and the Wild, but managed to rack up 121 PIM. I don’t expect much out of Staubitz and will be surprised if he has much of an impact on the team.
Yet another July 1st signee, Winnik is an interesting addition. He’ll likely take on the role of fourth-line center, replacing the departed Rod Pelley. Winnik has a bit more upside than previous occupants of that role and he thrives on the penalty kill (he spent nearly a quarter of his ice time last season on the PK). He is also the Ducks’ NHLPA rep, so that’s cool.
The lovable Lubo was traded to the New York Islanders at the 2012 entry draft for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft. Seriously. I still can’t believe I typed that sentence. I know that Lubo had a down year in 2011-2012, but you have to think a defenseman with Lubo’s offensive skill set could have yielded more. He will likely be replaced on the ice by Souray, though nothing will ever replace him in my heart.
Sheldon Brookbank, D—Although he was never much of a star in Anaheim, Brookbank was a fairly solid defender in his four pro years with the Ducks. A stout defender who was always willing to throw down in support of his team, Brookbank’s solid, but unspectacular play made him a replaceable commodity on the Ducks’ blueline. That said, if I could somehow trade swap Sheldons with the Blackhawks, I’d have Souray on a plane to Chicago immediately to get him back.
Of all the players the Ducks lost in the off-season, Blake is the one that most fans are happiest about. Known for his uncanny ability to drill the opposing goalie’s logo on nearly every shot, Blake was never much loved in Anaheim, despite his hustle. Blake saw his role diminish greatly last season after an arm injury caused him to miss almost half the year.
Niklas Hagman, LW—Unlike the departed Blake, I will actually miss Hagman. He always played a gritty style and while he may not have been the most offensively gifted forward, Hags gave everything he had on each shift. Like Blake, however, Hagman didn’t have a clear role on this team moving forward. It is sad, however, that Hagman was unable to get an NHL deal and has been relegated to a career in the KHL.
Yet another fan favorite gone, George elected to leave via free agency, presumably after he was non-plussed by Murray’s offers to retain him. A major force of truculence that had more of a scoring touch than he ever got credit for, Georgie will ply his trade for the Florida Panthers this season. George appears to have been replaced by Staubitz, though Staubitz appears to have none of the same scoring touch that George has shown in the past.
More than just a Twitter meme, Ellis actually played a capable goaltender for the Ducks in 2010-2011 when Jonas Hiller went down with an injury. Ellis logged only 10 games for the Ducks last season as he was beset by a variety of injuries that kept him out of the lineup. As of right now, Ellis plays for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL and has not caught on with an NHL team.
Personally, I feel like the Ducks downgraded this off-season. Losing Lubo and Brookbank hurts, and while I’m cautiously optimistic about Allen, I think the quality of the defense dropped this off-season. I’m interested to see how Winnik and Fasth fit in, but it would have been nice to acquire one more impact player on offense (though finding a spot for him in the forward ranks would have been difficult).