This is Anaheim Calling to the Hockey World...
Things have been spiraling out of control for the Ducks since a four game winning streak after losing the first game of the season. In all sincerity, the team has been awful from almost the word go. As such the inevitable has arrived: the Ducks are going to start selling assets. Jen recently linked to this Puck Daddy article that revealed Murray's plans to make everyone, except Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, available for trade. Increasing the angst for Anaheim fans, Jeff Miller and Eric Stephens discussed the merits of making a major deal, and then wondered out loud if Murray was even the GM to do it. Miller went so far as to offer this tidbit arguing that the "G" in RPG needs to be the one shown the door.
Most know where I fall on a majority of these discussions, but every now and then, I suppose it's good to check in with a more thorough explanation. Therefore, this is my take on three key issues: Trading one of RPG, whether the team should rebuild, and whether or not Murray is the GM to do it. In the immortal words of Shakespeare, "I will bite my thumb, let them take it as they list."On Trading One of the Big Three
First, I have a small bone to pick with Jeff Miller. It's not that he wants to trade Ryan Getzlaf. I truly believe that there is always some argument to trade any player. However, he doesn't do a great job justifying why it should be Getzlaf other than to say he's the captain. Getzlaf is certainly having a bad year, but who on the Ducks isn't? Selanne is more than meeting expectations. I think Koivu has been fantastic as well. Perry is close, but he's on his way to his worst point totals in the past 3 seasons. They could both get hot and approach 70 point seasons, but that won't help us make the playoffs. Bobby Ryan is on pace for the worst season of his career. Why not trade him? I understand Getzlaf is the captain, and he shoulders some blame for how this has turned out. However, I don't think he should be singled out for a bad year, when everyone is having a bad year. The stats are not a sufficient argument, especially when you consider that he's the top playoff producer of the big 3. If you take out his first playoff appearance, as a rookie, He's averaged a point per game in the playoffs.
Getzlaf is an impact player having a bad year. We shouldn't move him based on one bad year. I've noticed a marked difference in his effort since the arrival of Boudreau, but sometimes things still don't click. He doesn't look like himself. We should make sure he can't go back to his old self before we give up on him. More importantly, Getzlaf and Perry have been together since they came out of Junior. They are a package deal. You can trade Getzlaf now, but do you think the team he goes to isn't going to make sure they have enough cap space in case Perry decide he doesn't like playing in Anaheim without his friend? The best way for the Ducks to keep two of the big three is going to be to keep Getzlaf and Perry. Let's be honest, Bobby has always been the odd man out. He didn't want to adapt to the twins when he was put on the top line. He's never had a real place on this team. Is it his fault? Probably not. Is it bad for the Ducks? Maybe. Getzlaf has been a proven playoff performer. His first year as the top center he led us to an upset of the Sharks and pushed the Wings to seven games. In his first chance to be an impact playoff performer Bobby Ryan got suspended. That makes this decision easy for me. I think Bobby fetches you the best return without risking the core of the team. Which brings us to the next question.
The Ducks don't need to rebuild. They have a very solid core that is missing key pieces. The revelation that Rick Nash is willing to waive his no trade clause if asked, makes a trade even sexier. Bobby Ryan and pieces for Nash? Please and thank you. Alright, that deal isn't getting done without our first rounder this year and that's tragic for us. Still, you get the idea.
Here's a quick rundown of what the Ducks have: Getzlaf, Ryan, Perry, Holland, Etem, DSP, Fowler, Sbisa, Schultz, Beauchemin and Palmieri. Mix in the extra prospects/border line players, and you have Sexton, Beleskey, Bonino, Clark, Vatanen, Bobkov, Gibson, Rakell and Friberg. The Ducks have more forward than they have future positions on the team. The Ducks have the pieces to make a move, but Murray simply hasn't made it. More importantly, he has two good chips in Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman who can help him anchor a better deal with his prospects. The pieces are there for the Ducks to be a good team. What they need is a top defender, and some good, defensive-minded, depth forwards. The depth is awful, but the core is there.
In my own opinion, this is a team that has had a bad season due to the fact that management ignored serious flaws because of over achievement. The core of the team isn't the problem, it's the inability of that core to have quality players put up around it. Rebuilding is not the path this franchise needs to go. Adding a number one or two overall pick to a core of players, and then augmenting the roster more by moving fringe pieces like Lubo, Lydman or a key piece like Bobby will yield the best results going forward. But that leaves the key question...
On Bob Murray
Murray exhibits the characteristic I like least in a GM: a lack of accountability. The man blames the players for everything that goes wrong. It's certainly true that players have to take responsibility for some of their performance on the ice, but where's the GM admitting that he might have made a few mistakes along the way? Murray mostly postures and threatens the guys on the ice, and then makes moves that don't address the teams needs. For a rundown of how inexplicable and frustrating Murray can be look here and here. I noted in my post, the second "here", that Murray is the type of guy who goes around the block to get next door. Arthur then commented how that is the truly frustrating part.
Even if every problem eventually gets fixed. And even if we got better value in the fix than we gave up (and so far, we haven’t), what about the time spent walking around the block? Do we ever get value worth an entire season out of the playoffs or an entire season watching a hodgepodge defense struggle? Will the fixes ever come at the same time, such that we have a strong team headed into the postseason?
Murray's movement of assets is like watching a shell game: he keeps moving the asset around, but you never see it turn into anything except that single asset. It never gets improved, and he expends energy to get the same or worse. His big off season move to improve scoring depth was to get a third line player that Edmonton didn't want. His big improvement for an over achieving defense was to swap Andy Sutton for Kurtis Foster, who Edmonton didn't want. The cash he saved he then used to over pay Andrew Cogliano.
The team under Murray's tenure can best be described as a revolving door of spare parts. He inherited a good core and did absolutely nothing with it. You can say Burke left him in a bad position, but I don't think it's a sufficient excuse. Little Bowman, I refuse to call him anything else, inherited a worse situation in Chicago and completely retooled that team on the fly, and we have a higher cap hit than they do. To be fair, they're spending almost 10 million more in cash, but Bowman also did a good job of identifying key players and spending money on them. It should be easier for the Ducks to overpay for middle talent with so many ELCs in the system right now. In all honesty, the best moves Murray has made as GM are Sbisa's contract and listening to his scouting staff during the draft. I don't think Murray is the GM of our future. This should be his last season, and let's hope he doesn't mess up one more trade on his way out.
To summarize, Getzlaf is having a bad year and should probably be considered untouchable, if for no other reason than what we do with him might affect if we can keep Perry. The team doesn't need to be rebuilt, it just needs someone to oversee an effective summer of maintenance. Finally, Bob Murray is not the person to move this team forward, and I won't miss him.