While the biggest splashes of the day came from the Pittsburgh Penguins trading with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel in a six player plus up to three draft picks trade, Mike Green and Brad Richards signing with the Detroit Red Wings, the San Jose Sharks inking Paul Martin, and the Washington Capitals looking to change their game seven fates signing Justin Williams, the Anaheim Ducks free agency opening was a decidedly easy going day.
After trading for Kevin Bieksa from the Vancouver Canucks the day prior, the Ducks were quick to get out in front of an extension for the 34-year old. The defenseman is now contracted to Anaheim through the 2017-18 campaign for $8 mil, an annual cap hit of $4 mil. which is a $600,000 decrease from his current deal that runs through this season. With Nate Thompson expected to be out until December following offseason shoulder surgery, the Ducks added additional center depth by signing former Dallas Star Shawn Horcoff to a one year, $1.75 mil. deal.
Beauchemin, Beleskey Move On
With reports on Twitter from various sources leading in to free agency quoting Ducks management about differences between the organizational and individual desires of Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey, the two decided to seek greener pastures on the first available signing day. Beauchemin signed a three year deal with the Colorado Avalanche worth $4.5 mil. per season with a full no-movement clause, while Beleskey bounced to the Boston Bruins for a five year contract worth $3.8 mil. per season including a no-movement clause for the first two seasons.
Beauchemin leaves Anaheim the franchise record holder amongst defensemen for playoff games played (97, tied with Ryan Getzlaf for most in club history), goals (10, tied for seventh overall with Bobby Ryan), power play goals (8, tied with Corey Perry for third overall) assists (29, fourth overall), points (39, fourth overall), and penalty minutes (78, fourth overall). For the regular season Beauchemin is second among defensemen in games played behind Ruslan Salei (525, eighth overall), second in goals (53), assists (126) and points (179) behind Scott Niedermayer, and fifth in penalty minutes (334). Beleskey's eight game winning goals this past season is tied with Teemu Selanne's 1996-97, Perry's 2008-09, and Paul Kariya's 01-02 for fourth most in a single year in Ducks history.
Horcoff Fills Hole Down The Middle
Horcoff comes to the Ducks with 14 years of experience, 12 with the Edmonton Oilers and the past two in Dallas. The former Michigan State Spartan will be 37 at the start of the 14-15 season and has been primarily used in a lower six role the past three seasons. He appeared in the 2008 All Star Game, and put up six points (one goal, five assists) against the Ducks in their 2014 first round series against Dallas. Horcoff enters the year 51 games shy of 1,000 in the NHL, and is coming off a year that saw him put up 11 goals and 18 assists for the Stars while averaging 13:01 of ice time.
Own The Puck Visuals
With Thompson being injured, the initial window on which Horcoff will impact the Ducks lineup appears to be a small one. Chris Wagner receiving a qualifying offer figures that he'll be in the mix as well after solid showings in his limited opportunities last season. Still, having a player like Horcoff that no longer regularly contributes positively offensively but provides a noticeable impact in reducing both shot attempts and goals against while on the ice is a nice piece to have. Considering how Boudreau used Thompson last season, Horcoff may actually be better at preventing chances against and be able to better fit that role as a lower six center. With a small cap hit and the team just barely over the salary floor while still having Jakob Silfverberg and Carl Hagelin as restricted free agents, it's a penny-wise signing that guarantees an additional veteran of back up for the start of the season. Also, being only a one year deal it won't hinder Anaheim's ability to re-sign any of the sizable RFA crop of next season.