Dan Sexton scored last night, and the winger seems to have found his stride in the second half of the season, after riding the shuttle for much of the year. Sexton brings much needed speed to the lineup, but David McNab's undrafted college free agents haven't enjoyed the long stay of an Andy McDonald under the Burke or Murray regime.
They don't all leave for the same reasons, and some are re-signed for nice contracts before being traded, but the team has let go of Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, Ryan Shannon, Curtis Glencross, Ryan Carter, and, of course, Andy McDonald in recent years. Daniel, there is the temptation to think of an undrafted college free agent as a free player, whose profit window is perhaps shorter, as his age puts him in closer proximity to free agency. But, do you think it's important that the Ducks try hard to keep Dan Sexton a long term Duck?
The Ducks should keep Dan Sexton, if for no other reason than we need a player with an awesome nickname. If that's convincing enough for Murray, then how about giving McNab his due. Kunitz-McDonald-Penner could be a top line on some teams. McNab finds all of these diamonds in the rough, and the Ducks seem to waste all of them. It's time the Ducks took the time to develop a McNab treasure.
More importantly, the Ducks are working with more scoring lines than they have in the past, and that makes Sexton's abilities much more valuable to the organization. He's settled into the role of a third line winger rather well. His speed provides scoring opportunities for linemates who would otherwise have trouble getting the puck up the ice quickly, and attacking with speed. He has a fantastic shot, and he's finally starting to weave into the slot instead of settling for shots from the half boards. If we could find Sexton some PP time, I guarantee Anaheim fans would be happy with the production. Sexton is going to be a very solid player who puts up very good numbers.
Finally, Murray needs to keep Dan Sexton because Big Sexy is a Duck. He plays the kind of hockey we want to see. He's tenacious in the corners and he isn't afraid to push a big guy like Marc Staal away from the play. He's been working hard, and he's been giving us everything that we want. His play is consistent with the identity of the team, and those are the players GMs NEED to hold onto. I'm not saying that letting Sexton get away would be as big of a mistake as letting Beauchy walk, but it would be in a similar vein. It would be us wasting resources to get a player we already had.
There were reasons not to keep Kunitz, Penner or McDonald, but there are reasons not to keep any player. And the Ducks were hurting without Penner and McDonald, to the point that making the numbers work-- or maybe just starting negotiations with Penner before the jackals showed up --was probably a better idea than trying to find a dime store replacement, as Murray attempted with Beauchemin.
Sexton is a type of player we don't have in ready supply. He addresses a hole in our forward corps, and those holes are where David McNab's scouting really counts. In the coming years, the Ducks will lose speed with the departure of Teemu Selanne, and then perhaps Saku Koivu. And the team would be left waiting for Kyle Palmieri (for whom Murray has expressed negative assessments), Emerson Etem, or a free agent.
And I guess that's really the difference for me. Is Dan Sexton the type of player we're dead without? No. But is he the kind of player that could keep Murray shopping the free agency market and returning with dented cans, just to avoid paying Dan Sexton seven figures. Well, yeah. I want to see the speedy secondary threat that is Dan Sexton, because I know the alternative is for Murray to bring home a Brand X speedy secondary threat, or a series of them, even. And I'm tired of dining on generic alternatives, instead of fighting to keep the devils we know.