While yesterday saw the big splashes occur pre-draft with Calgary acquiring Dougie Hamilton from Boston and Los Angeles becoming even easier to dislike by picking up Milan Lucic, the Ducks were content to sit back and draft Jacob Larsson with the 27th overall pick. Today Anaheim completed a trio of moves, upping their second day draft pick haul from the three selection slots held coming in to the draft to six. Be sure to read about the Ducks second day selections in a piece to come later this afternoon.
After five seasons in Anaheim that saw the 26th overall selection in the 2009 draft put up 43 goals and 46 assists in 198 regular season games, and seven goals and five assists in 33 playoff games, the Ducks sent Kyle Palmieri just under two hours away from his hometown of Smithtown, New York for a pair of draft picks. The move frees up $1.467 mil. in cap space this coming season, and more importantly moves a potential restricted free agent from the summer of 2016-17 that Anaheim would have to worry about. Anaheim still faces quite a log jam next offseason, with forwards Rickard Rakell and Jiri Sekac, defensemen Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres, and Josh Manson, and goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson due for restricted free agency, while Ryan Kesler will be an unrestricted free agent.
Palmieri had a limited role in the 2015 playoffs, seeing third line minutes of 13:11 average time on ice per game and putting up just a goal and three assists. That average ice time is higher than the previous two playoff runs, where he averaged 10:12 as he scored three goals in 2014, and 10:34 in 2013 when he put up three goals and two assists. In the regular season he equalled his career high of 14 goals, scoring on a career high 12.5% of his shots with five tallies coming on the power play. It was also the first season that Palmieri was a positive shot attempt differential player at even strength, the Ducks attempting 51.6% of the shots while he was on ice, while in 2013-14 he was 48.1 SAT% and in 12-13 47.9 SAT%.
While the winger tantalizes with his shot (the game winner at Winnipeg early last season immediately springs to mind), ultimately Palmieri's hot and cold tendencies coupled with injury issues made him expendable. Perhaps he will thrive more in a top six role like the Devils may be able to provide, but he wasn't strong enough in his own end to demand that role in Anaheim. With Sekac showing flashes this past season, ultimately Palmieri became more valuable to the franchise as a chip to bring back future pieces while allowing other players into the regular roster than as one to keep as part of a Cup contender.
Emerson Etem and 2015 2nd Round Pick (Ryan Gropp) to Rangers for Carl Hagelin, 2015 2nd Round Pick (Julius Nattinen) and 2015 6th Round Pick (Garrett Metcalf)
This is an intriguing move as the Ducks traded one restricted free agent for another in sending Etem to Manhattan while bringing back the speedy Hagelin. While the 29th pick from 2010 never was able to actualize in the Ducks lineup, Etem has been replaced with a player further along the development curve. Hagelin's production with Sodertalje SK's youth program and the University of Michigan from 07-08 to 10-11 never reached the lofty heights of Etem's scoring prowess with Medicine Hat, but in 266 regular season games with the Rangers he's chipped in 58 goals, 72 assists, and been a positive possession player all four seasons, in addition to 12 goals and 14 assists in 73 playoff games with the Blue Shirts.
In Etem's three seasons with the Ducks he put up 15 goals and 16 assists in 112 regular season games, and six goals and two assists in 23 playoff games. This was the first season that Etem was a positive SAT% player at even strength (thanks in part to the magic that was the Ricky-Etem-Cakes line), though despite showing flashes of penalty killing prowess in his first playoff series against Detroit in 2013 never seemed to recapture that magic. Hagelin was one of the Rangers top penalty killing forwards, averaging 1:57 of shorthanded ice time per game in the regular season and a team best 2:11 shorthanded TOI/GP in the playoffs. On the surface the deal seems one which switches out a player who came out of the minors with a goal scorers pedigree in Etem that struggled to crack the lineup in a bottom six role, for a player in Hagelin more suited to the third line/energy type role that can still chip in offensively.
One of the main reasons for the Rangers to make the move is Hagelin coming due for a raise from his $2.25 mil. cap hit this past season, and on a club where there is significantly less cap space to go round acquiring a cheaper asset with scoring upside in Etem makes sense. With the Ducks having just under $24 mil. in cap space according to NHL Numbers there seems plenty of room to add Jakob Silfverberg's countryman to the fold. While Hagelin does not bring the high level physical presence of Matt Beleskey, he's a versatile player that can fill multiple roles in the middle of the lineup and will add even more speed to a unit that transitioned to a much more fleet one as last season progressed.
James Wisniewski to Hurricanes for Anton Khudobin
Perhaps Wisniewski's return to Anaheim was destined to end poorly as the defender struggled recovering from a bone bruise in his foot and never was able to develop chemistry with fellow Ducks defenders, ultimately watching the playoffs from the press box. For a player who has put up such solid possession numbers in recent seasons on Columbus (49.8 SAT% in 12-13, 54.0 SAT% in 13-14, and 49.4 SAT% in 14-15 at even strength), at times it was a bewildering decision by Boudreau to never give him the opportunity in the postseason. Still, with the $5.5 mil. cap hit Wisniewski carries over the next two seasons, those are monies that could go to the likes of Lindholm, Vatanen, Despres, and Manson who could ultimately have a much greater long term impact on the franchise. This move could also signal the Ducks prioritizing bringing back Francois Beauchemin perhaps at a lower ticket and reduced role than his $3.5 mil. tag last season with top two minutes.
Khudobin has been a career backup to this point, appearing in 91 games over six seasons with a .919 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average in terms with Minnesota (six games from 09-10 to 10-11), Boston (15 games from 11-12 to 12-13), and Carolina (70 games the past two seasons). At 5'11" he is undersized for the position by modern standards, and he carries a $2.25 mil. cap hit that will expire to unrestricted free agency after this season. In the past two seasons with the Hurricanes Khudobin has posted shot quality adjusted save percentages of .943 and .920 at even strength, and .932 and .916 in all circumstances. This is a pure backup acquisition, and General Manager Bob Murray was explicit in stating that the Ducks will be holding on to both Andersen and Gibson with Khudobin filling the role Jason LaBarbera and Ilya Bryzgalov attempted to last year.
The exact quote from Bob Murray was: "John Gibson is not getting traded … put that fucking out there"— JoshuaCooper (@JoshuaCooper) June 27, 2015
Gibson remains on a two-way deal through this coming season, so now comfortable in the knowledge he'll remain with the Ducks, perhaps this paves the way for more time for him in San Diego in 15-16.