The Ducks won two in a row and crawled to 12th place in the Conference. While the ten points keeping them out of a playoff spot might not seem daunting, the four teams they need to jump in order to take sole possession of 8th won't topple easily.
Much more disturbing than the Ducks ascent from the cellar, the Flyers are 6-3-1 in their last ten and seem to be interested in the playoffs again. For a while, it seemed like Anaheim might pick twice in the first ten at this year's draft. However, if the wins start to pile up, then the draft positioning can only get worse, and the value of the picks will surely drop along with the quality of the player(s) selected. Arthur, if the Ducks are picking 10-20 instead of 1-10, is it better to pursue a trade or to keep the prospects?
This is a tough call, simply because I don't know what level of rebuilding we've hit. If we're going to start any of these kids in their draft year, then by all means we should keep the picks. If someone like John McFarland fell into the bottom 10, we'd be fools to start two 2nd Rounders in his place. But if we're trying to restock the cupboard or acquire a player by trade, then moving one of the picks isn't a bad idea.
Bob Murray seems like a quick fix GM. That's the sort of guy that ships off 2nd Round draft picks, buys low on recent bust players and signs guys like an aged Wendel Clark to bring his team together. And while Martin Madden made some great picks in the 2nd Round this year, you have to remember that Carlyle isn't the kind of coach that leans on rookies. So I have to believe the organization, as it is now, is the kind to move the picks.
But if Murray and Carlyle weren't in the picture, and you were just asking about the best move? I would say trade the two picks for a higher first rounder. Start that kid, start Sbisa, start Bonino, maybe even get Gardiner, Mitera and Deschamps into the NHL. Basically, just put a cheap but talented lineup around Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. Then acquire one toxic blueline contract (or create one), and you have Blackhawks Rebuilding 101. It'll be cheap and entertaining, at least for a few years.
I think they need to explore trade options no matter what. With the deadline fast approaching, these picks might generate enough interest for the Ducks to sell high. I realize that's a low probability move, but I also think it's the kind of thing Murray looks to do. As you've said, Murray doesn't seem like the type who sits around to wait for talent to develop, so these picks are as good as gone. If that's the case, Murray should be looking to package a pick in a deal for a number 1 defenseman.
There aren't a lot of those available, but I can't help but think that one is going to shake loose from the Calgary tree. I know Sutter vociferously denied any trade involving Phaneuf, but this offseason, after the Flames have suffered yet another early playoff exit due to an offense that's so one dimensional it makes a straight line look like a circle, Sutter is going to have to do something. That 6 million they pay Phaneuf is going to look a lot better going to a center who can actually get Iginla the puck. With Reghr, Sarich, and Bouwmeester, the Flames are set at D for at least another 4-5 years, plenty of time to replace Phaneuf with a prospect but not enough to give Iginla a legitimate shot at the Cup if Phaneuf stays. Yes, the Flames would probably flip whatever picks they get from us to get their scoring depth, which is fine, because it looks like we won't be needing too much help scoring when all we're missing is a second line center which might be bought on the cheap this offseason.
I'm not saying this is the only trade where the Ducks can get value from these two picks, and if the records improve the quality of the D-man we acquire will be lessened. However, Scotty WILL leave this summer and someone is going to have to take his minutes. Shane O'Brien can be bought cheap, but the Ducks need a top tier defenseman to avoid full rebuild mode and moving these picks might be the best way to avoid full scale reconstruction.