It’s nearly time for the hockey equivalent of Christmas. Sure it’s still almost a month away, but February 26th will come along faster than you think. This wonderful time of the year provides one of the more exciting, and yet often anticlimactic, experiences of the hockey season. It also provides the very last chance that General Managers have to add to, or remodel, their teams prior to the offseason and draft. Ducks GM, Bob Murray has shown over his tenure that he is unlikely to spend big at the deadline to acquire big name players. However he has made a number of smaller deals leading up to, and right at the deadline (a full list of all his career trades can be found here).
Thus, given that knowledge, hockey fans everywhere start to put together trade lists that will likely never eventuate. Here is one more. Or really, just a place to start discussing the remained of this season and the directions the Ducks are taking as a franchise. The rules I’ve given myself were:
- No one with a NMC would be included for trade - partially because of the hoops required to get a player to waive their contractual rights, and partially because Bob Murray has shown no inclination to do this in the past. I wanted to attempt to create somewhat realistic trade scenarios.
- All trades were made with teams that are currently out of the playoff picture, and unlikely to sneak in. Chicago for example is more or less in the same situation as the Ducks with regards to standings points and games played, thus they weren't considered a trade partner for this exercise.
- All trades are made with the ideal that the Ducks are going to be a playoff team and attempt to pull together for a cup run.
- Also...I want Francois Beauchemin to retire a Duck. This season. I’m a sentimentalist like that.
And so we begin.....
The Big Name
The Deal: 2019 1st round pick + Jacob Larsson + Ondrej Kase for Max Pacioretty
Evander Kane was originally my first though for this proposal, but the fact that he’s a UFA at seasons end and the Ducks are still on the outside of the playoff picture made this a risk that I personally didn't want to take. I thought if I was hesitant, the notoriously risk adverse Bob Murray would certainly blink. Which lead to one of the other big names on the market, Max-Pac.
LW - check. Leadership - check. Goal scorer - check. Left shooter - check. Under 30 - check. Reasonable contract - OMG its so good, check.
It’s never going to be smooth handling a rare trade including a 30 goal scorer, as they simply don't come along often. When they do, they typically collect a small haul. Ducks fans will remember that 4x 30 goal scorer Bobby Ryan was moved for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and a 1st round pick (predicted to go mid 20’s at time of trade). That is essentially the basis for this trade, and quite likely the cries and tears of both teams fan-base will be heard.
For whatever insane reason, the Montreal Canadiens believe that moving their 28 year old 5 time, 30 goal scoring, captain will help them...score more goals? It maybe would be best not to try to delve too deeply into the psyche of Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. That said, they would like to develop a group of solid young players and the Ducks in this instance can help them out. Larsson, although coming off a poor season last year, and being injured for much of the current season, has shown excellence at all times outside of these problem areas. Prior to last season he was considered a straight up stud muffin, and this season since returning from injury has proven to be a solid player in the AHL. Kase, has put up points, and shown that he can play up and down the line up to a certain degree. Certainly he’s shown enough that would warrant comparison to Silfverberg’s value, should we use the Ryan trade as a comparison. The first is a first, and will be whatever the Canadiens make of it.
So all of that said, why do the Ducks do this? Many, many, Ducks fans believe that they won the Ryan trade, so may look unfavourably on this proposal. I would counter to them, that the Ducks cup window if not already closed is closing fast. The franchise has been searching for a left shooting LW for so long that Pepperidge Farm cant remember. Max-Pac fits the bill, and he does it right now. Maybe Larsson and Kase end up being excellent players, and the first turns into a top 6 player, and I can see the issues fans may have giving that up. However, the Ducks have a chance so long as Ryan Getzlaf is in his prime. With Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell and Silfverberg all signed for the next season and more, the time for the Ducks to strike is now or never. The Larssons and Kases can be replaced over time, but a Getzlaf replacement will require a combination of luck, a really high draft pick, and likely a lot of losing, to acquire again. Max-Pac comes in and adds the kind of scoring that has been systematically stripped away from this team over the past few seasons.
At 4.5 million this season and next, the Ducks can fit him into the roster this year. Should Eaves and his AAV return next season, the Ducks have enough money coming off the books to ensure that they will be cap compliant next season as well. Keeping in mind Pacioretty has created those goals playing with the equivalent of Ducks 4th liner, Derek Grant, who knows what heights he can reach paired with a genuine top 6 pivot. Regardless of how you feel about the Ducks package, that would be worth the price of admission.
The Depth Player
The Deal: Marcus Pettersson + 2018 3rd round pick for Niklas Kronwall
There’s been some chatter amongst fans about Niklas Hjalmarsson, and quite frankly the same deal probably works for them. Although it should be noted Arizona are at the 50 contract limit and would likely need to offload an additional player. This may mean that the Ducks have to up to the 3rd rounder to a 2nd along the way. Nonetheless, I’ve chosen to go for Kronwall over Hjalmarsson, despite the extra 600k on his AAV. Both players similarly can submit a 10 team trade list, so may not be realistic chances for a trade anyway.
Kronwall probably means more to the Red Wings than to anyone else, and I'm certain that most older generation Ducks fans don't want him. But he is a solid addition and he hits like a truck
that jumps off its skates into peoples heads. Nonetheless, the Ducks could use the defensive support, and the Wings need to rebuild, although it should be noted that Kronwall has not - to my knowledge - been placed on the trade block. Kronwall could be trialled all over the line up, although first point of contact has to be with Fowler, bumping Bieksa off the top pairing. Statistically Kronwall doesn't appear to be much, however he does have a break even on scoring chances, which on a bad team is admirable - particularly given he’s the only defenceman on the team to do so.
Marcus Karl Gustav Pettersson - however much we may grow attached to prospects - is unlikely to get a chance as a full time Duck, which makes him somewhat expendable to the organisation. Or rather it makes him the perfect trade bait. Adding a 3rd round pick costs the Ducks nothing. Detroit on the other hand get a prospect who could quite likely slot into a 2nd pairing in the future. At 6’4” he has great length, which as he adds size will help his defensive game in a big way. A converted forward, his offensive instincts are already solid, as he’s somewhat shown with 14 assists in 38 AHL games this season. A pretty solid prospect with a big upside. Quite frankly I don't want to let him go, but if he’s not going to be a Duck he needs to be used to gain something that will help. Kronwall, has a good chance of assisting the Ducks towards a playoff berth. At the very least, with him on the team, less Ducks players are likely to get hurt playing against him.
The Player They Really Need
The Deal: 2018 1st round pick + Sam Steel + 2019 2nd round pick for Christopher Tanev
I’m under no illusions that this probably isn't enough for the Canucks given the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade in recent times. It’s also probably too much to give up for the Ducks. The kicker is, the Ducks are short a top 4 defenceman since they traded beloved fan favourite Sami Vatanen and moved former hockey player Kevin Bieksa up to be Cam Fowler’s partner. Despite not being a typical driver of shooting metrics (i.e. corsi), Tanev is a smart two-way player suffering on a mediocre defensive team. He’s a smooth skater, although not particularly fast, with a high IQ and a crisp first pass. In a Carlyle driven system, Tanev’s poise would surely prove beneficial. There is some concern that his right hand shot wouldn't mesh with Fowler, yet his style is certainly one that should allow Fowler more latitude to pinch and employ an offensive game. Perhaps more valuable is that he would push Bieksa either into a 3rd pairing role, or even to the bench if Carlyle is happy with the current Beauchemin - Brandon Montour pairing [Editor’s Note: Ha. Hahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-CJ].
The package being given up certainly helps the Canucks rebuild. Steel, while coming down from the lofty heights he set last season, is still looking like being a solid middle 6 pivot, and the first rounder sits nicely (at present) in a strong draft. All the reasons that the Ducks may not wish to pony up.
That said, a top 4 defenceman in his prime years at 5 million in salary for the next 2 seasons with an AAV of 4.45 is pretty good going. As stated elsewhere, the Ducks have a finite window to maximise their chances of a final cup before Getzlaf goes the way of the buffalo. After moving Sami Vatanen this season, and Shea Theodore as part of the expansion draft, the Ducks bountiful riches on defence have somewhat dried up. Bieksa and Beauchemin both come off the books at seasons end. Tanev provides Murray an opportunity to maintain a solid defensive veteran presence in the lineup, whilst upgrading the skill level, and opening a roster spot for Jacob Larsson should he still be Ducks property next season. Steel might be nice, and the mystery box might be the mystery box, but Tanev is a legit top 4 guy that can strength the Ducks roster today and keep them in the running next season as well. Should Murray decide that he does need to go all in and try for a cup, this could very well be the move to make.
The Change of Scenery
The Deal: Nick Ritchie + 3rd round pick 2018 for Jesse Puljujarvi + 5th round pick 2018
At this point in his career, Nick Ritchie very likely is who he is. For the Ducks today, that means he’s a middle 6 grinder that hits, hits with his fists, and may possibly - if the stars align - contribute a point every now and again. Although he has had somewhat of a resurgence in recent games, overall he’s taken a step back from last seasons high water mark of 14 goals and 28 points in 77 games. This is a far cry from the expectations he arrived with; coming off of a #10 overall draft position, and an incredibly hot start in the AHL (16 goals, 30 points, in 38 games).
Similarly Jesse Puljujarvi has been struggling with the Oilers after his top 10 draft selection. For a long time touted as a potential #1 overall pick based on his junior and international play, Puljujarvi “slipped” to #4, where the Oilers snatched him up. Likely with high hopes of him solidifying a spot next to one of their big two pivots. As is the Oilers way, they burnt a year of his ELC last season by playing him in 28 games before sending him to where he should have started the season initially - the AHL. He showed he had the talent to play in that league, putting up 28 points in 39 contests. This season he has somewhat been bounced between the two leagues, collecting 5 points in 10 AHL games, and 14 points in 31 NHL games. Recently he has be regulated to the 4th line, in place of former NCAA player Drake Caggiula.
This recent line-up move gives the basis of the trade. The Oilers value grit, as Caggiula is a “two-way” buzz-saw like energy player. This adds to the player type collected by the Oilers, with noted heavy weights Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon already on the roster. Ritchie could provide them another of that type of player, while still having some upside in terms of draft pedigree and age. Conversely, the Ducks could use a young scoring talent. While Ritchie was the hope, a similarly built, but faster skating Max Jones is on the way. Given the dearth of speedy players on the Ducks roster, Puljujarvi could provide speed on the other wing should he show chemistry with Jones. Consider the potential a Steel-Jones-Puljujarvi 3rd line could have. While inter-division trades are a rarity in todays NHL, the Ducks and the Oilers (and with Peter Chiarelli in Boston) have trade history over the past few years. Most recently the Ducks gifted the Oilers Maroon as part of a cap dump, retaining salary in the deal for a number of years. Prior to that Cogliano was brought over, and has grown to be a fan favourite in recent years.
While 3 years older, Ritchie has had similar results to Puljujarvi in both the NHL and AHL since being drafted. This age gap may require a little extra from the Ducks, but it seems clear that for both players to reach the potential that seemed so clear only a year ago.
The Move Bob Murray Probably Makes
The Deal: 3rd round pick in 2018 for Josh Gorges
After years of hearing how the two teams are linked - Anaheim sends a defenceman to Buffalo for forward X - they finally hook up.... and its Buffalo sending a defenceman to Anaheim.
Gorges was one a well respected and pretty handy defenceman in his day. That ship unfortunately has largely sailed. However he is a veteran defenceman on an expiring contract. Given the trouble that the Ducks have had with healthy defencemen over the years, its seems at least plausible that they would consider adding another with such leadership to the group. How he would fit with the group is a matter for Randy Carlyle to consider, but at first blush I would imagine that Montour sits as punishment for his defensive lapses and Korbinian Holzer is moved further down the depth chart. Gorges certainly isn't the player that fans may want, but a mid-round draft pick for an expiring veteran is very Murray. Stephane Robidas was somewhat of a surprise for the 15 games (some exaggeration) he was healthy for, and maybe Gorges will be too.
What do the Ducks need the most?
This poll is closed
Top 4 Defenceman
Top 6 Forward
Nothing. They’re Stacked & Healthy Now