Anton Khudobin Placed On Waivers
In November, General Manager Bob Murray tried to send Chris Wagner to San Diego of the AHL, but the Colorado Avalanche claimed him off waivers. Today, Murray opened the same door for goaltender Anton Khudobin, who will likely be picked up by another team in the next 24 hours, perhaps by the time you are reading this.
This decision all but ensures two things: First, Frederik Andersen, who was rumored to be available, will not be moving, at least until the offseason. Second, John Gibson will be continue to play with the Ducks rather than be reassigned to the Gulls.
On the plus side, Murray has elected to keep his two strongest goaltenders, and for the sake of this season's potential playoff run, that is a good thing. If the Ducks make the playoffs and Gibson gets hurt, the decision to hold onto Andersen could look really good.
On the minus side, trading Andersen's rights in June could net a less valuable return than he would have commanded in a pre-deadline trade. Murray will therefore either: A) Trade Andersen for less than he could have gotten, B) Re-sign him with money that would be better served going toward the other more valuable restricted free agents (Rickard Rakell, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm), or C) Let him walk for nothing.
Also on the minus side, Murray will not get anything in return for losing Khudobin. This is not a huge concern on its own because his trade value is not very high, but as we know, the little things add up.
Earlier this month, I suggested the best course of action might be to trade Andersen for a considerable return this season. My thinking was that the short-term risk of having to rely on Khudobin as a backup for the rest of the season and (potentially) the playoffs would be outweighed by the long-term reward of whatever return Andersen would command. Unless Khudobin clears waivers, this scenario is now out of the question.
If Andersen helps backstop this team to a successful playoff run, or if his June trade value is higher than I anticipated, I will be happy to eat crow on this matter. If not, add this to the growing list of Bob Murray's questionable decisions.
Nate Thompson Suspended
This was a clear hit to the head of Justin Faulk, and the quickness of the play leading up to the hit does not excuse Thompson from it. Thus, supplemental discipline is appropriate. None of that should be too controversial.
What might be controversial is the number of games. In this case, that number is three. If Thompson didn't have a relevant history, he might have been given one or two games for this hit. But he does have a relevant history — he was suspended for two games in 2013 for a hit to the head of Matt D'Agostini — and the NHL takes that into account, as it should.
Critics might point to Brandon Dubinsky only getting one game for cross-checking Sidney Crosby in the back of the head. The NHL says he had no relevant history, despite being fined twice previously. He earned one of those fines by brutally boarding Rob Scuderi in 2013. The league did not release a video explaining the play, but it's not hard to imagine his lack of suspension history factoring into the decision to give him a fine instead of a game or two.
Dubinsky probably earned more than the one game he got. Tyson Barrie probably earned more than the three games he got for his high, late, charging hit on Simon Despres in October. But again, he had no relevant history.
As a Ducks fan, I understand the frustration for the inconsistency of suspensions. But as a hockey fan, I'd rather see them dole out too many games than too few if it helps eliminate hits to the head [Hear hear - EE]. They're moving in the right direction, which isn't something we get to say about the NHL as often as we'd like.
Jiri Sekac Back With the Ducks
Sekac, who suffered a right ankle sprain on November 1st, is now skating alongside Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg on the Ducks' second line. He scored a goal in Saturday's AHL game, his only appearance with the Gulls this season, and will likely play for the Ducks this Thursday in Buffalo.
The second line needs some sort of offensive jump. Kesler and Silfverberg aren't all-stars, but they also aren't as bad as their scoring totals this season indicate. Might as well try Sekac with them, because nothing else has worked.