This is Anaheim Calling to the hockey world: HANDS OFF!
Seriously, back up when you talk about Corey Perry. He's still Anaheim property and there's still a very solid chance the man isn't going anywhere. However, conventional wisdom dictates that when a small market team has the potential of losing a big star for nothing then the team should get some assets in return. Of course, Nashville and New Jersey both ignored this in hopes of making one last run with their respective stars before gambling on free agency.
Originally, I thought the Ducks were facing a similar situation; that it was a question of whether or not the return on a trade would be worth losing a potential shot at a deep playoff run or perhaps a Cup. I realized that this was the incorrect way of thinking about the situation. The real question is whether or not there is another window on the horizon.
Anaheim fans have made a festival of renouncing the projections of statisticians - and bloggers who follow the team - who say the Ducks can't keep up this torrid offensive pace over an 82 game schedule, eventually the wheels will come off. I've never been a big fan of evaluating a team based solely on a quarter of a season, but I suppose that's a personal preference. More importantly, the shortened season has made the threat of "eventually" a little bit less frightening.
Which is why when we discuss trading Corey Perry the question we should ask is whether or not this team will have another window in the near future. Can this team produce a Cup window in the near future without Corey Perry? If you think the answer is 'yes', then Pears is trade bait. If you think the answer is 'no', then the wiser decision is probably seeing if the hockey gods can continue to shine on us favorably and see if we can get a second championship to distinguish ourselves as the marquee team of the West Coast.
Cup windows can be fleeting for small market teams, and many players will tell you how important it is to be lucky as well as good. Any Anaheim fan should be able to tell you how important it is to be lucky in a Cup run, unless that fan somehow forgot Scott Niedermayer's last minute miracle goal that deflected off NiklasLidstrom's stick. Right now, luck favors the Ducks. Their third line is a key component of their depth scoring; Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray are solid contributors from the backend; and all of the big guns are putting up very good numbers. Mix in some solid goaltending from Viktor Fasth, and Jonas Hiller and the only major concern for the Ducks is that deplorable PK% and their tendency to give up more shots than they direct on net.
In other words, a potential possession problem. I suppose numbers really are the best way to decide whether or not this team will be as good next year as this year, so we'll look at some numbers of the key players. I'm not going to do rookies, because that's still a very pure unknown. Then, we'll have the typical discussion about why trading Perry is a bad idea: the return won't be worth it, and the sign and trade feature of the new CBA makes a later trade a better possibility.
First, the numbers.
I know people are tired of the "luck" factor in PDO, so I decided to switch it up and look at this from a different angle.
The Ducks offense is really driving this team. Their defense is certainly good, but when you spend most nights getting outshot chances are that your ability to score goals is winning you games. As such, this chart should raise a few eyebrows. These are the key players for the Ducks offensively who have enough of a track record for us to wonder if they are having career years. Eight of the Ducks' top nine offensive options right now are on pace for career years by pretty significant margins when compared to their average production. The exception is Teemu Selanne whose numbers are so ridiculous for most of his career that to expect his carer average would be irrational.
What does this mean?
We are witnessing a perfect storm. Every team needs a little luck to be a serious Cup contender. Are we seriously going to sit here and say that next season our ENTIRE third line will have career years that exceed their traditional averages? Of course not because that would be foolish. This leads me to the original point: this team, as it is now, might not have another great shot at a Cup for a while.
It takes times for rookies to grow into great producers or you need to hope they exceed expectations quickly. If the hockey gods have decided to bless this team with a short season so they can dodge some of the numbers that would otherwise handicap them, then it's a little unwise to talk about shopping Perry. An opportunity like this might not come around for a while, and we can all probably agree that there isn't a trade package out there that would make this team a better contender than keeping Perry would. However, if you think that Cogs has rounded a corner, Winnik has finally become a scoring threat and Koivu will have two of the best years of his career in his late 30s, then we need not fear where this roster will be next year. Of course, we could always hope the rookies make us great contenders next year.
If you don't buy the idea that keeping Perry is in the best interest of the club because this team won't get another chance at the Cup for a while, then think carefully about what you're going to get for Corey Perry. A lot of teams can afford him; Ray Shero is probably licking his chops. The problem is that most teams in the Cup hunt don't want to give up very talented NHL players because they want those players as depth in the playoffs. Most GMs aren't going to give up top prospects for a rental, no matter how prominent of a rental that player is. Being a rental also limits the amount of picks you can ask for. Any picks are going to be later in the round because we're talking about teams who are making the playoffs. Personally, I'd rather stock the coffers with extra playoff revenue so we can buy a solid replacement in the offseason, either through free agency or trade, than take the smaller return that a deadline deal will bring. More importantly, the Ducks can have the best of both worlds.
I'm not a fan of the sign-and-trade. I think it perpetuates the idea that small teams are their to feed the big clubs. However, the sign and trade will probably be the best solution for Anaheim if they believe they can't work out a contract: Perry gets the max value on his deal and we can charge closer to the 8-year price in whatever trade we do. The extra contract year is going to be key to any club that seriously pursues Perry. The new limitations that prevent circumvention blow up contract values. We all witnessed this with Getzlaf's new deal. Any team that doesn't get the extra year is going to have to pay Perry $9.5M a year if they want to get him the same $66 million. That's not doable for any team, let alone one trying to contend for a championship. The cap is coming down next year after all. The counter to this would be that the Ducks can charge for that "8th" year at the deadline. It's certainly a possibility but I don't think you'd be able to get the same return on a potential extra year as you would on a pure sign and trade.
As I said earlier, the trading of Perry really comes down to whether or not you think this team will be able to open a better window any time soon. I don't know if it can. It's relying on 8 of its 9 key players having career years. How often does that happen for a team? Bob Murray will be better off going all in on this year and hoping he can pay Perry over the summer. If he can't get Perry back, maybe he can have a Conference championship or a Cup to ease the parting blow.
I don't think you look at a player like Perry and say he's an asset we have to get "something" for. He's more valuable to us here, even if he walks at the end of the year. There are times when small market teams need to act like big market teams and this is one of them. There's no one out there that can steal Perry the way the Flyers tried to steal Shea Weber. The Ducks should go toe-to-toe with the most genuine player in the organization. It's the best way to show him the respect he deserves.