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The Cam Conundrum

I know there's that whole CBA thing, but I'd really like to stick around all year.
I know there's that whole CBA thing, but I'd really like to stick around all year.

Since the moment Cam Fowler was selected 12th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in this year's draft, a hot topic around these parts has been whether or not the Ducks would burn a year off Fowler's RFA status by keeping him around for more than nine games this season. For those interested in the legalese, here's Article 9.1(d)(i) of the NHL CBA:

In the event that an 18 year old or 19 year old Player signs an SPC with a Club but does not play at least ten (10) NHL Games in the first season under that SPC, the term of his SPC and his number of years in the Entry Level System shall be extended for a period of one (1) year, except that this automatic extension will not apply to a Player who is 19 according to Section 9.2 by virtue of turning 20 between September 16 and December 31 in the year in which he first signs an SPC. Unless a Player and Club expressly agree to the contrary, in the event a Player's SPC is extended an additional year in accordance with this subsection, all terms of the SPC, with the exception of Signing Bonuses, but including Paragraph 1 Salary, games played bonuses and Exhibit 5 bonuses, shall be extended; provided, however, that the Player's Paragraph 1 Salary shall be extended in all circumstances.

Through the first six games of the season, it seemed like a given that the Ducks would keep Fowler for the whole season. He was easily one of the Ducks’ better players over that span, and he even potted his first goal in a game against Phoenix. And then Shane Doan happened. Since then, Fowler has been held out of the line-up with some combination of a broken nose and stiff neck.

Through six games with the Ducks, Fowler recorded a goal and two assists and was a -1 over that span. Because I know that Arthur and Daniel hate +/- as a determinative stat, I looked up the Ducks' Corsi stats from Behind the Net.

This list is sorted by Corsi On, which essentially measures how a player affects the flow of shots while he's on the ice (a positive number indicates the player's presence results in more shots in favor of his team, a negative number indicates the opposite).

Overall, Fowler ranks near the middle of the pack with a -7.88 rating (Josh Green, in his limited time, leads the team with a 29.88 rating). Among defensemen who have played six games or more, Fowler's Corsi On rating ranks fifth behind Syvret, Brookbank, Visnovsky, and Lydman. Only Mara and Lilja have recorded worse Corsi On numbers.

The Ducks are now 12 games into the season, and they've played exactly half of their games with Fowler in the line-up. Here's how the Ducks have fared with and without him:


Goal Differential

Shots Per Game

Shots Allowed Per Game

With Fowler





W/out Fowler





The Ducks had a better record with Fowler playing, but their peripheral stats are better without him. This is not to say that Fowler was hurting the Ducks. Rather, the Ducks have played much better in their last six (although the last two have been particularly painful).

Danny Syvret, who ostensibly replaced Fowler in the roster, has played remarkably well. As mentioned above, he sports the best Corsi On rating for any defenseman with 6+ games played at 11.03. Over his six games, Syvret has a goal and an assist and is a -3. It should also be noted that Syvret's average TOI of 16:27 is three and half minutes lower than Fowler's average of 20:06.

So, what do the Ducks do? Recent reports seem to indicate that Fowler is getting closer every day to returning. The Ducks still have three games to test out their promising young defenseman and I fully expect them to at least get him to nine games played. However, with the Ducks in 1514th place in the Western Conference and 3 points away from the 8th spot, should the Ducks waste a year of Fowler's productivity on what is quickly becoming a lost season? And if the Ducks do keep Fowler for the year, who do you replace? With Andy Sutton due back in a few weeks, the Ducks would have to make two roster moves to accommodate both defensemen.

As I see it, there are credible arguments both ways. Fowler has definitely earned the right to play a full season at this level, and it would be demoralizing to send him back to Juniors to maximize contract value in the long term. Then again, it might behoove the Ducks to send Fowler down and call-up d-men from the Crunch if any other injuries arise, so they can get a gauge of what the more immediate future holds.

So what do you think? Should the Ducks keep Fowler for the whole year? What are the potential pros and cons to keeping him or sending him back to Windsor for the rest of the season?