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Dan Ellis Is Going to Disneyland

The headline might seem deceptive, but the Ducks General Manager's recent actions remind me of when Disney ran the team. Murray gets in front of the media, tells them Curtis McElhinney has "earned the opportunity to get back on track", and then trades him after an acceptable performance against L.A. I can't fault McElhinney for the game winner. Perry was setting a perfect screen. Curtis even managed to make a couple of big saves. The offense couldn't cover him.

On the surface, the deal is an upgrade that costs little, but I'd put the trade deadline target on anyone who's "earned an opportunity" in Murray's book for the next few days-- such opportunity subject to whimsy, offer only valid until the next viable trade offer. The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.

Dan Ellis is a guy with over 100 games of NHL experience, who spent time as a number 1 guy in Nashville and Tampa Bay. In terms of performance this year, he's not a huge upgrade over McElhinney. Both of them have a save percentage in the .890 range. McElhinney's GAA is undeniably worse, but that can be attributed to the recent breakdown over the past 3 games. If anything, I think we gain the same thing we got when we brought up Emery, a guy who knows how to play at a higher level as a starter. That is definitely comforting going down the stretch.

However, Dan Ellis has another year on his contract. The cap hit probably isn't a concern, but his salary is a static 1.5M. The Ducks also offered Emery a shot to get his career back on track. Instead of splitting time with a back up, he's now competing with a guy who theoretically has the same tools to be a number one. To top it off, he isn't even getting game time in the AHL, which is probably preferable to riding the pine while Ellis takes the lion's share of the starts. Nobody knows what's wrong with Hiller and how long he'll be out. If it's bad, Emery may not get the opportunity he was hoping for. If it's not, Emery probably goes down and we're stuck with a goalie who probably thinks he should be the top guy, but is suck behind Hiller.

Emery would have been a cheaper upgrade over the summer, considering he still would have been trying to prove that he can play at the NHL level. The list of free agent goalies is full of capable backstops who probably could be had on the cheap.

I like two free agents, Laich and Okposo, and while I agree that Hiller may need a strong backup, Ellis at 1.5M next year puts a crimp in my hopes for a free agent play, especially with a GM who already has a propensity for filling the roster on the cheap and dealing said Boyntons in the middle of the season.

Goalie upgrade? Yes. Puzzled at how this fits into his "plan" for next year? Also yes. All I can do is point to how Calgary emerged from the abyss when Sutter called it quits. Should the Ducks miss the playoffs again this year, and thus become the fifth Bob Murray team to miss the postseason when the GM has the reins to open the year, I can only hope that Henry Samueli will get in front of the media and reassure us all that Bob Murray has 'earned the opportunity to get back on track.'