On a day where many across the NHL bemoaned a lack of major moves, the Anaheim Ducks made a pair of value moves on the trade deadline, in addition to clearing out a couple depth forwards.
General manager Bob Murray elected not to move any of the pending restricted free agents, or dip in to his war chest of defensive prospects in acquiring pending arbitration-eligible restricted free agent Brandon Pirri from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2016 sixth round draft pick. Pirri is currently on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury during a February 14 game against Nashville, and is expected to be available mid-March based on initial projections.
The Ducks also announced a late deal, bringing in pending unrestricted free agent Jamie McGinn from the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional 2016 third round draft pick. If Anaheim advances to the Western Conference Final and McGinn plays in more than half of the Ducks' games, the pick becomes the Ducks 2017 second round pick.
There are two players outgoing; Tim Jackman, who appeared in two games for Anaheim this season before spending the remainder of the season in San Diego, was traded to Chicago with a 2017 seventh round pick in exchange for Corey Tropp. Patrick Maroon, who fell out of favor early in the season and put up four goals and nine assists in 56 games primarily used in a lower six role, was sent to Edmonton for 22-year old defenseman Martin Gernat and a fourth round draft pick. Maroon has become the sixth straight Ducks Kids Club Captain to either be traded or suffer an injury.
Meet The New Ducks
Pirri, who will turn 25 on April 10, was the first acquisition the Ducks made, a 2009 second round selection (59th overall) by Chicago and traded to Florida in 2014 for a pair of draft picks. He was a better than point-per-game player (11 goals and 32 assists in 39 games) in his lone year of NCAA hockey with RPI in 2009-10, and spent three full seasons with the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate in Rockford. Pirri topped the 20-goal plateau twice with Rockford, including a 75-point season (22 goals 53 assists) in 12-13, leading to seeing his first extended stretch of NHL use the following season. Last year he netted 22 goals in 49 games in his first full season with the Panthers.
McGinn is an eight-year NHL veteran who will turn 28 in August, and was a second round selection (36th) in 2006 of San Jose. He was a better-than 20-goal scorer in three of four years of major junior experience with the Ottawa 67's, including a 46-goal campaign in his third year in the Ontario Hockey League. McGinn split time between Worchester and San Jose each of his first three NHL seasons beginning in 08-09, before being traded at the 2012 trade deadline to Colorado. He put up a career-high 19 goals in 13-14 with the Avalanche, and was included in the Ryan O'Reilly trade to Buffalo at the draft last summer.
Tropp is a four-year NHL veteran who was drafted in the third round (89th) of the 2007 Draft by Buffalo. He played three seasons with the Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA, where he put up 20 goals and 22 assists as a junior. Out of college, Tropp played a full season in Portland of the AHL in 10-11, putting up 10 goals and 30 assists in 76 games, earning a split between the NHL and AHL next two seasons before being moved to Columbus. He's spent the entirety of this season with the Albany Devils in the AHL, scoring 11 goals and 17 assists in 51 games, and looked to be an addition to help fill out the Gulls lineup.
What's The Expected Impact?
Both players have experience playing with top flight talent, which points to the ability to perhaps fit in on the top two lines. Neither are great as far as suppressing shots against, but have solid goal generation and shot generation capabilities. Expect the greatest impact for both to have on the offensive side of the ice.
Pirri is much more of a finesse player, and has demonstrated good playmaking abilities at the minor league levels, as well as a streaky scoring touch. To have already put up a 20-goal season, primarily skating alongside Jimmy Hayes and Vincent Trocheck, speaks to his ability to play with pace and convert on his chances when slotted as a left wing. In two of his first three seasons he's been a positive as far as shot attempt generation at even strength, where he's scored 33 of his 46 career goals. He was ranked the Panthers' #5 player under 25 by fellow SBN site Litterbox Cats.
McGinn appears an immediate replacement and upgrade on Maroon, with a more established track record of scoring at the NHL level while playing a similar physical style. The analytic numbers are not kind, but having played on an Avalanche team that routinely got outshot, as well as an under-manned Sabres team, it's about what you'd expect. McGinn has been able to put up decent production despite generally starting his shifts in the defensive zone for the majority of his career. He could be a solid second power play unit option as well, with 22 of his 83 career NHL goals on the man advantage.
Where Does This Leave The Ducks?
Anaheim is in a spot where they didn't need to make a major, earth-shaking move. With the team on the kind of roll they've been on since Christmas, and kicked into an even higher gear since acquiring David Perron, the potential price to add a player of Loui Eriksson's caliber (top flight defensive prospect) is simply not worth potentially upsetting chemistry over. Another point to note is with moving Maroon to Edmonton, Murray has another $1.5 mil. in the budget for the next two seasons which can help in retaining the RFAs (Anaheim retained a quarter of Maroon's salary to make the move), as well as perhaps allow ideas of retaining one or more of the Ducks pending UFAs.
The question now shifts to where the new players can fit in? A look at how the most recently used forwards lines against Los Angeles stack up with the empty spots:
David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Mike Santorelli / Ryan Garbutt
Nick Ritchie - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
(EMPTY) - Nate Thompson - Garbutt / Santorelli
Once healthy, it would seem the Pirri acquisition allows Anaheim to return Ritchie to San Diego for the Calder Cup push, while giving Rakell and Perry another creative force on the line that can finish. The move also likely spells the end of Santorelli and Garbutt as top line wingers, who likely could end up flanking Thompson on the fourth line. McGinn has primarily been used on the left side, so he may also slot in that second line spot with Pirri tried on the right side (he's actually listed as a center). A returning Chris Stewart will likely move back down to the fourth line rotation, although it'd probably be safe to assume head coach Bruce Boudreau will give him a shot back with the top line where he'd performed so well.
This is another trade deadline where general manager Bob Murray has made creative moves that bring in assets for what are roundly considered below market value. He's also increased the team's flexibility for the offseason, as now there are seven expiring unrestricted contracts on the roster. For as much as folks bemoan him here, it speaks volumes that this is another deadline that has been roundly given high marks by the national media.
The Anaheim Ducks are better off than they were entering the deadline, and did so by moving just one roster player. The strong run of form for the franchise since Christmas continues.