What changes will be made this summer? Will there be any significant ones?
Now that a couple of weeks have pasted since we were eliminated from the play-offs, my excitement about how this team will be improved over the summer has skyrocketed. Reading blogs about rumors and following them on the Internet just make me want to skip the next 28 days to finally arrive at this years NHL draft! Especially, since we have two first round picks this year (one of them being #10).
I believe that pretty much all of you agree that this team need a legit number 2 center and another top 4 defensemen to get to the next level. After having read many of the blogs and comments, I felt that numerous trade proposals just seemed a little bit too extreme. Therefore, I wanted to see what kind of trades could actually happen. Various people have mentioned names like Kesler, Spezza and Byfuglien as their top choices. But how realistic are those names?
To begin with, does this team have the assets to get these players? Definitely! But would Bob Murray use them is a different question. I decided to look into all the trades Murray has done since he became the Ducks GM in 2008. His probably most significant trade was in the summer of 2009 when he traded Pronger to the Flyers. That trade, however, was not to improve the team on the short-term but long-term bases (receiving numerous draft picks and young talent). Since then, there have not been many big name trades but rather small ones.
To name a few, there was
- Jason Blake (2010)
- Lubomir Visnovsky (2010)
- Beauchemin (2011)
- Lovejoy (2013)
- Ryan (2013)
- Perreault (2013)
- and Robidas (2013)
Everyone knew that this was going to happen, as we could not pay him what he wanted. I would say the only surprising thing was that we did not target to fix one of our needs, but rather increased our prospect pool. It was the one chance to get a really good player in return that could make this team better NOW (Defensemen or #2 Center).
Granted, there was not really much to add between 2011 and 2013, as we were clearly in a rebuilding phase. But then, this past Trade Deadline, we wanted to significantly improve our team to actually have a shot at the Stanley Cup. The big name trade seemed to almost be there: Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks. But just almost. The deal did not go through and we ended up with only Stephane Robidas. I would like to say though, and I know that many of you say that you don’t give credit to rumors (and rightfully so), that I was really happy that there actually was that rumor. Every Trade Deadline and Free Agent Frenzy I am hoping to hear how some big name comes to Anaheim, but am always disappointed with names like Matthew Lombardi or Aaron Ward. So this time I had hope that it might be the year where we might add a significant piece that will actually help us. Yes, we did not get Kesler, or any other top player, but it gives me hope that Murray might make a move this Draft. But then again, having seen his "bigger" trades this far, should there be hope? Will he ever do a big trade?
There is another angle from which I would like to analyze this situation. Let’s say, Murray is willing to deal some of his assets, including this years #10 pick at the draft, and he finds a partner that is willing to accept his offer, should he do it? The key here is the 10th pick in the first round. I would argue that most of us would right away say "yes." But let’s look at it from another perspective. I believe it is fair to say that the Anaheim Ducks should be making the play-offs in each of the next 4-6 years (with the team they have and all the prospects). What I am trying to argue is that they should make the play-offs regularly in the next coming years, which will mean that they will have to pick at the draft in the region of 20-30. This means, that this years draft will be the last time in many years to come that the team is going to have a pretty high pick. Should they give that one up? The Ducks have drafted extremely well in the past and it could bring up another really great prospect. I believe that the Ducks will not have two first round picks anytime soon anymore. In order to receive one, they need to give up a really good asset. Now who could that be? Getzlaf and Perry are obviously going nowhere. The same applies to Fowler. In the future, if some of our prospects (such as Lindholm, Gibson, Vatanen, Etem, etc.) really develop themselves into top NHL players, there might be a chance. But that’s really in the future! If Andersen was to have two brilliant years in a row, then he might be able to bring a first rounder, but otherwise there are no assets that can be traded for a 1st round pick. But in the end, does it matter if we have one more top prospect? Does picking 10th overall in this years draft have a significant effect for our future?
So what are realistically possible trades?
Ryan Kesler? If we believe the rumors about how much Murray was willing to give up (two first round picks and really top prospects), and Vancouver declined, how much more would we have to give? That begs another question. Is Kesler worth this much? If we compare that to how much we received for Ryan, I feel like we would dramatically overpay. Yeah, sure, Vancouver plays in our division, but should we then still pursue him? Adding to that, his has two years left on his deal, which pays him 5 million a year. What happens after his contract expires?
Jason Spezza? With a cap hit of 7 million (which shouldn’t be a problem as the Ducks never get close to the maximum cap hit) and a salary of 4 million (only!), he seems like a good choice. In addition, he is only 30 years old and has still many years of good hockey left. The downside however, is that his contract will expire after one year, which means that he might leave the club for nothing. However, he doesn’t come for free. It is believed that his price is pretty high. Does it make sense to spend picks and top prospects for a player that might end up as an only 1-year rental? Spezza will want to sign his last long-term deal with a lot of money. And it is very clear that the Ducks are not going to pay him as they already have Getzlaf and Perry on those huge deals.
Byfuglien? As good of a player as he is, there is also unfortunately a downside to him. He is 29 years old, and only has two more years on his contract (until 2015/16). His cap hit is 5.2 million and his salary will be 5.75 and 6 million in his last two years. Then again, the Ducks will have a problem, as he will try to get a long-term deal with a lot of money. Can the Ducks sign another big money contract?
By just looking at the three options, it is clear that in order to keep them long-term, the Ducks will have to give them a high value long-term contract. Are they willing to do that? I believe that they will have to if they want to be able to seriously compete for the Cup. Lastly, there are a few pretty good players in this year’s free agent market. One of them would be Paul Stastny, who could nicely fill our hole as a #2 center. But with so few really good centers available, his price tag will be too high for the Ducks.
So what should the Ducks do? What is the right (and realistic) move Bob Murray has to do to get our team to the next level?