I did a post like this last year, except it had a very different feel. Last year, we were definite buyers in the playoff hunt. This year, we need a miracle to make the playoffs. Yes, it's possible, but it's highly unlikely. This deadline we will be sellers, and we should be. This is a team with a good core that needs an almost complete retooling of complimentary players. Also, the Ducks need to assume that Teemu Selanne will not be here next year. I love Teemu, but Bob Murray has made it clear that he doesn't want to go the extra mile to make his time worth while; he wants the team to over-perform for Teemu. That's unfair to the Finnish Flash. This team won't have a good deadline unless it understands that it needs a complete remodel. In order to do that, we have to give up on the idea that this is a Cup team. As it is now, this is barely a playoff team.
I've broken this one up a little differently. First, I'll list guys we should sell, then I'll follow up with guys who might be good acquisitions to help us move forward. Finally, it makes me sad that Murray can't see the value of a draft pick. If Robby is right, and I take the man at his word, then Murray isn't looking for draft picks at the deadline. Getting NHL ready players is always nice, but a pick can be flipped into an NHL player as well. Hey Bob, remember when you traded a second round pick for Andrew Cogliano...I'm just saying. Draft picks are some of the best currency. They are like cash. Everyone can find a use for them. That's not to say that Murray shouldn't be focused on getting young NHL talent, just that Murray should be open to all assets. This team won't make too many serious moves at the deadline, we'll make them before or near the draft. As such, a few extra early round picks could go a long way. Ok, rant over.
Toni is the guy who definitely needs to go. For a budget team like us, a bottom pair defenseman cannot make 3 million in both cash and cap hit. Lydman was great last year, and he's been serviceable this year. At the end of the day, he simply makes too much money and will be a major hindrance to rebuilding the defense. He should net us a solid prospect and maybe a pick.
A couple of weeks ago, if you would have told me the Ducks had to trade Lubo, I would have thought you were crazy. Lubo has the type of contract the Ducks can fall in love with. He'll be making 3 million on a 5+ cap hit next year. He's a good offensive defenseman who can change momentum in a game, if he can find some space. He's been pretty invaluable. However, the Hurricanes re-signed Gleason, and the wheels started to turn in my head. There just aren't going to be a lot of great offensive defenseman available at the deadline this year. The Ducks probably have the best one available. That's a boon to a team that needs to reconsider how it's going to move forward with it's D. Not only is Lubo probably the best available option for most teams, but he's also got an extra year left on his deal. That makes him even more valuable. The Ducks could get a second round pick and an NHL player for Lubo, and that's a conservative estimate. Justin Shultz is going to be coming up after his season is over. Mat Clark is in the AHL and probably needs a cup of coffee with the big club as well. We have enough pieces to fill in for the time being. Even if the Ducks are close to the playoffs, it's not worth giving up the great return he would yield for sniff of the playoffs.
Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman:
These guys are the same player in terms of deadline value, except Hagman might be more valuable. According to CapGeek, when a player is waived and claimed on re-entry waivers, then the two teams split his cap and salary 50/50. If the process happens again and a third team claims him, then the original club still pays half and the next two clubs split the other half. This leads me to believe that if Hagman was traded, the Ducks would be trading their half of the 50/50 split with Calgary. In other words, teams can have a player similar to Blake for more than half the price. With these guys, the Ducks will have to sit it out and try to see what other veteran forwards are going for, but I imagine these guys won't have very large returns. I like Hagman and would like to see him stay, but the Ducks need assets. Guys like Blake and Hagamn are good additions to teams looking to make Cup runs; they are complimentary pieces who can provide solid depth scoring.
Guys to get
I think this is a no-brainer. Schultz was a top 4 defender under Boudreau, and the Caps aren't using us. Chances are he'll cost less than what we get for either Lydman or Visnovsky. Hell, we might be able to get him for Hagman or Blake. He has two years left on a deal with a 2.75 cap hit that pays him 3 million each of the next two seasons. Yes, that's what Lydman costs, but Schultz is a BB product and I think that offsets the cost. This is a player Bruce knows how to use, and got great mileage out of. He has to be a Duck by the deadline, so he can start developing on this team as soon as possible.
Penner is a shadow of a shell of his former self. Los Angeles has not been kind to him. I wonder if L.A parts with him to simply make space for a bigger acquisition at the deadline like Zach Parise. This is a low risk, high reward move for the Ducks. We're only on the hook for a small chunk of that 4.25 salary, and he gets a brief audition to see if there's some old PPG magic left in the tank. If Penner and the twins can still play together, that makes Bobby either expendable, or more valuable as a second line anchor. Both of those options are good for the Ducks. Penner will not get the same money he made on that last contract. If he can be a 20+ goal guy on the top line for less than 3 million, while Bobby is potting 30 with whoever on the second, then the Ducks will have very good scoring depth moving forward. It will also give them more flexibility in developing the young players.
This team isn't undergoing a full rebuild, but they should act like it for a deadline. They need to keep the core pieces, and move the vets that have value. This team probably won't be a contender for at least another season, so Murray should focus on getting good value and thinking about how he is going to use all his new assets to build around this core.