Here is the inaugural column of One-Timers, a list of random hockey (and some non-hockey) things that pop into my head each week.
-- The Ducks have given no indication they plan on dealing Jonas Hiller this summer, despite his backup, Viktor Fasth, being signed to a two-year extension after playing 10 games. I am 99.9% sure Bob Murray's goal for next season isn't to have Hiller and Fasth win the Jennings Trophy. One man has to go in order to make room for wunderkind John Gibson (more on him later).
Where have we seen this situation before? Ah yes, J.S. Giguere and Hiller. Well, Hiller is now Jiggy and Fasth is now Jonas (I think I just blew my own mind). We all remember what happened there, Jiggy was traded to Toronto for Jason Blake (shudder) and Veska Toskala. (Side note: just three months later, Toskala, having never played a game in a Ducks uniform was traded to Calgary for ... wait for it ... Curtis McElhinney. Oh Lord. That name still haunts my dreams).
Anyhoo, I have a half-a-trade proposal. In the early part of the 2013-14 season, should the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending struggles continue, the Ducks should trade Hiller to Pittsburgh. It's a half-a-trade proposal because I don't know what I want in return except for high round draft pick(s). I know for sure I don't want Marc-Andre Fleury.
By making this move, the Ducks put Fasth into the number one position, move Frederik Andersen up from Norfolk to be his backup and that in turn gives John Gibson the minutes he needs in the AHL to acclimate to the professional game. Speaking of John Gibson...
-- ... he's been pretty good for Team USA but we all need to put his current career success into perspective before deciding to dump both Fasth and Hiller for the kid. Playing in World Juniors, he's up against some of the top talent from each country, but how many of those kids are going to make their team's NHL roster out of camp? They're still young players who need to develop more.
Now playing at World Championships is a better - not great - place to judge Gibson's current abilities against NHL players. The best of the best NHL'ers aren't participating in Worlds because they're playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. His true first test at the pro-level will come in the pre-season when each goalie in the current system are given their chance to play at Honda Center.
No matter what, Gibson needs to develop before he is elevated to the big club full-time. The Ducks are going to use the two years of Fasth's extension to allow Gibson to adjust to the pro-ish game in the AHL and then give the anointed one his shot to become Viktor Fasth and Fasth becomes Hiller.
-- Both Bob Murray and Bruce Boudreau were nominated for GM of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively. I wasn't surprised they both lost and not just because I do believe Ray Shero and Paul McClean deserved it more.
Bruce's nomination was not surprising. He took a team that finished just short of the playoffs after a franchise record setting run into a second place in the Western Conference team the following season. What Bruce should be appreciated for the most is how he turned around opinions of players we had no idea why he liked them so much. Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano had a career rennesance this season thanks to Bruce. Boudreau did some sort of black magic to turn Ryan Getzlaf back into Hulkzlaf. Let's hope they keep it up next year..
Murray's nomination surprised me the most. Bob took a big gamble on Sheldon Souray, giving him a contract most of us disagreed with; however, it worked out well (save his playoff crapfest) due in part to the fantastic season of partner, Francois Beauchemin. Bryan Allen was another gamble and another attempt by Bob to replace the giant hole left by Chris Pronger (see: Foster, Kurtis & Sutton, Andy). After a super rocky first half, Allen played himself into shape and finally looked comfortable in the system. Other gambles that worked: Getting Ben Lovejoy from Pittsburgh (and the GM of the year, Shero) for a late round draft pick and signing Daniel Winnik who helped to get the Ducks off to a great start before melting into a puddle of nothing.
In part, I think Murray's nomination by the other GM's came from the overall feeling of, "Holy shit, I can't believe he re-signed BOTH Getzlaf and Perry." Let's be real here, 80% of us (myself included) thought Perry was walking and had little confidence in the ability to negotiate. No word on whether pro-scout Brian Burke helped talk to both players and their reps.
Had all these things NOT worked out in Murray's favor and Bruce was unable to work his magic with the lineup he was given, we'd be looking for a new GM right now. $50 says it would've been Burke but now we'll never know. At least not this off-season.
-- I don't know why but my gut says the Ducks are going to be active at the draft. They'll keep their picks but player trades could be looming.
The guy with a big target on his back is Peter Holland. We've all been anxiously awaiting Holland's break out year a la Emerson Etem and it feels like we've been waiting a while. Holland has the ability to be a great center on the second or third line, he just can't string together consistent games. He might have a great offensive night but his defense will be weak and vice versa. I am leaning towards changing my fantasy team name from Trade Kyle Palmieri (yes, yes, I was TOTALLY wrong about him) to Trade Peter Holland. Pretty sure the public shame is what gave Palmieri the boost to have a great season.
-- The goal of the Anaheim Ducks franchise is to win a Stanley Cup, not a Calder Cup. The Admirals aren't the Admirals of old (currently the Syracuse Crunch) and that's not the Ducks problem. What I read a lot of were things along the line of 'Player X better not keep playing well in Norfolk because the Ducks will take him and sit him in Anaheim'. Damn right they will. The Ducks have some incredible prospects in the pipeline. If they're playing well in Norfolk against other JV players, Anaheim wants them up to give them a shot with the varsity.
They're also spare parts. Can the Ducks not carry some good backups in case of injury because they take away from what is happening in Norfolk? Do I need to remind people that California is a six hour plane ride away from Virginia? What is more detrimental to a young player's development is being called up and sent down a million times (ex. Kyle Palmieri and Dan Sexton during the Randy Carlyle era) spending all that time on a plane, not on the pro or minor league ice.
The successful players in Norfolk are never going to turn down an opportunity to come to the big club because they're scoring in the AHL. No one loves long bus rides that much. Playing in games does benefit the player more than sitting but practicing with the likes of Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Koivu, et. al is going to give the player waaay more in the long run than playing in Norfolk's game.
-- I'm going to go total homer for a second. Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins is being praised for his success at being such a pest during the playoffs. It's like no one in the hockey media has seen this type of player before. There is even mention of adding him to Team Canada for the playoffs because they might need a player like him.
How short their memories are. I've got a got a 50 goal scorer, former MVP, Stanley Cup Champion, gold medal winning pest that everyone outside of Anaheim loves to hate. Remember that Corey Perry guy? The same guy who will already be on Team Canada. Leave off Marchand for someone with more talent than just pissing people off and streaking at the right time.
Wait. What am I saying? I'm an American. Keep Marchand on the roster, Canada.
-- Some of our regulars may have noticed I haven't been around for the past month. After two-ish years straight of running the blog with the assistance of my amazing staff, I was burned out. I gave Chris the keys to the house and went completely off the AC grid. I'm back now, refreshed and ready to get the season started again...in three-ish months. At least it's only a couple months this time...right?! There is no way they're having another lockout, right?! RIGHT?!
(Thank you times infinity, Chris. Enjoy your blog sabbatical. You earned it!)