It’s been 1,692 days since the Anaheim Ducks traded Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft (which turned into current Ducks forward Nick Ritchie).
It was, without a doubt, a game-changing move for Ducks general manager Bob Murray.
Ryan scored at least 30 goals in all four of his non lockout-shortened seasons with the Ducks and had two years remaining on his five-year, $25.5 million year signed in 2010. Silfverberg, a former second-round pick, was an intriguing prospect still on an entry-level deal — he posted 10 goals in 48 games in his last season with Ottawa and was known for his solid two-way game.
At the time, the Ducks were dealing away a player with the fourth-most even-strength goals from 2008-2012 that was still on a manageable contract for three unknowns. While Noesen is no longer with the Ducks organization and Ritchie has been a disappointment, most would say Murray won that trade. Ryan, now 30 years old, costs $7.25 million per year despite having never scored 25 goals in five seasons with Ottawa; Silfverberg has established himself as one of the NHL’s better two-way wingers and has an outside chance at his third straight 20-goal season.
The point? Age and contract status matter. By giving away Ryan, the Ducks were departing with a player due for a much higher salary even though it was unlikely he’d continue to produce at his current rate. Instead, they were taking a calculated risk on a few less-proven players that had potential to be a difference-makers but at a much more manageable cost.
There’s no exact formula to this — the Ducks dealt Chris Pronger to Philadelphia in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and some draft picks prior to the 2009-10 season due to concerns over how much Pronger would cost in his next contract. Pronger’s tenure in Philadelphia was short, but he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final and finished fifth in voting for the Norris Trophy in his first season with the team. Meanwhile, the Ducks watched the 2010 playoffs at home, Lupul was traded away after 49 games and Sbisa’s only value was that he helped acquire Ryan Kesler.
Essentially, the trade value rankings are trying to separate the Ryans from the Silfverbergs and the Prongers from the Lupuls or Sbisas. In players No. 20 through 11, there were more Ryans — good players who definitely aren’t what they cost or what they used to be — with some role players mixed in. Players No. 10 through 1 will try to determine who the Silfverbergs are — the players who make you say, “Yeah, he’s worth that (and maybe more).”
Players No. 20 through 11 along with the definitive criteria can be found here.
(Note: All statistics are courtesy of NHL.com and corsica.hockey, while salary figures are from capfriendly.com)
10 - Brandon Montour (RFA)
Montour’s sophomore season has been and up and down one. Through Nov. 30, Montour was third on the Ducks in scoring (six goals, 13 points in 24 games). Since then, he has nine points (all assists) in 35 games. He hasn’t scored a goal in 40 games. For a player touted as an offensive defenseman and one that runs the second power-play unit, that raises some eyebrows.
Fair or not, Montour will always be compared to former Ducks prospect Shea Theodore due to their similar ages and playing style. Theodore, Anaheim’s first-round pick in 2013, was traded to Vegas during the expansion draft as a handshake agreement that the Golden Knights wouldn’t pick any of the Ducks’ coveted unprotected defensemen. In 42 games this season, he’s been one of Vegas’ top possession defensemen (51.3 Corsi %) with 18 points.
9 - Adam Henrique (one year, $4 million AAV)
Henrique has been a boon for the Ducks ever since he was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 30. His 14 goals rank third on the team despite having only played in 36 games for Anaheim. With Henrique in the fold, the Ducks have arguably their deepest group of centers since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006-07. He’s dependable and seems to always make the right play, and also has a knack for scoring when it matters (ranks ninth in the NHL with six game-winning goals).
8 - Ondrej Kase (RFA)
Taken in the seventh round, 205th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft (only five players were selected after him) Kase has already proven to be a steal. With apologies to Nick Ritchie and Montour, Kase could also prove to be the best player from that draft class for the Ducks.
After an uneven rookie season where he recorded 15 points in 53 regular season games and two goals in nine postseason games, Kase has found another gear in 2017-18. He currently ranks second on the team in goals scored (17), first in even-strength goals (16), first in points per 60 minutes (2.98), first in goals per 60 minutes (1.65) and third in points per game (0.69). Whether paired with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell or Henrique and Ritchie, Kase has been productive. The only worry is the small-ish sample size, but on a per game or per shift basis, Kase has been a very good player and a very pleasant surprise. And considering what Rakell or Silfverberg cost on their second contracts, it’s hard to envision Kase’s upcoming deal being a major hindrance.
7 - Cam Fowler (eight years, $6.5 million AAV, modified NTC)
Fowler has probably been involved in more trade rumors than any other Ducks player in recent years, due to the franchise’s wealth of young defenseman and the fact that he was up for a new contract in 2018. The notion of trading Fowler went to bed when the 26-year-old agreed to his extension back in July.
There’s been much ballyhooed about the actual quality of Fowler as a defenseman. Billed as a potential elite offensive rearguard in his draft year, Fowler produced 40 points as a rookie and hasn’t matched that since (though he did record a career-high 11 goals in 2016-17). Part of the blame goes to his usage and partner — Fowler has poor possession numbers relative to some of his Ducks counterparts, but since 2010-11 only former Duck Toni Lydman had started a smaller percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone (for players with at least 3,000 minutes with Anaheim during that time). Also consider that Fowler’s most frequent partners during his career have been Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin and Ben Lovejoy. Fowler is at his best when he can play aggressively, but that’s tough to do when your partner isn’t reliable. He’s not an ideal No. 1 defenseman (he leads the Ducks in ice time), but Fowler is still an integral part of Anaheim’s defensive unit.
6 - Jakob Silfverberg (one year, $3.75 million AAV)
It might not always show up in the counting statistics, but Silfverberg is one of Anaheim’s most important players. He’s a bit of an enigma offensively — despite a lethal shot, he shoots only an 8.7 percent for his career — but Silfverberg hardly ever loses a puck battle along the boards and always keeps possessions alive in the offensive zone. Plus, it’s hard to dislike a player with 37 points in 40 playoff games with the Ducks.
5 - Josh Manson (four years, $4.1 million AAV)
Manson is never going to light it up offensively, but he, along with Hampus Lindholm, has consistently been one of the NHL’s best shot suppressors. Since 2014-15 (his rookie season) Manson ranks 12th in SAT% for all defensemen that have played at least 82 games in that span. Manson is one of only two defenseman (the other being Lindholm) with whomt Cam Fowler has a positive Corsi %. He also brings an element of physicality unmatched by anyone on Anaheim’s defense.
4 - John Gibson (one year, $2.3 million AAV)
If recent deals involving goaltenders with similar age and contract situations are any indication of what a hypothetical trade involving Gibson would look like, at least a first-round pick and likely much more would come the Ducks’ way.
When the Ducks moved Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the summer of 2016, Anaheim gained the 30th pick in the 2016 Entry Draft and a 2017 second-round pick (which ended up as No. 50 overall). Andersen was a restricted free agent at the time of the trade, so the acquiring team knew a big-money deal was due. Gibson is still under contract through 2018-19 for a very team-friendly $2.3 million per season. After that, he’ll warrant at least something similar to what New Jersey gave to Cory Schneider two years ago (seven years, $42 million, $6 million AAV) but likely more due to his age (he’ll be 25 when he hits free agency) and the rising salary cap.
For reference’s sake, other recent goalie trades include: Martin Jones to San Jose (for a 2016 first-round pick and prospect), Cam Talbot to Edmonton (four draft picks, including a second-rounder) and Robin Lehner to Buffalo (along with forward David Legwand for the No. 21 pick in 2015).
None of the aforementioned goalies, including Andersen, stack up to Gibson’s current statistics at the time they were traded.
The biggest blemish with Gibson’s value is his constant battle with leg injuries. Between that and the Ducks’ recent history of goaltending depth, Gibson has never started more than 50 games. He’s on pace to break that trend this season (46 starts with 21 games remaining).
Statistically, Gibson has been very good in 2017-18 — of the goalies with at least 30 starts, only two have a better save percentage (.925) than Gibson. He’s also faced the sixth-most shots against. If there was anyone putting together a list of only the best goaltending assets in the entire league, Gibson’s ability, age and contract would place him comfortably in the top five — maybe even No. 1.
3 - Rickard Rakell (four years, $3,789,444 million AAV)
Rakell’s career trajectory has been an interesting one. Drafted as a center, he made some cameo appearances with the Ducks in the 2012-13 and 2013-14, but truly established himself as a full-time NHLer in 2014-15 by appearing in 71 games.
His career took off in 2015-16 when then Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau experimented with Rakell on Ryan Getzlaf’s left wing. With one of the NHL’s elite playmakers on his hip, Rakell broke out with 20 goals.
Rakell signed his current deal on Oct. 14, 2016 and immediately rewarded the Ducks’ faith with 33 goals in 2016-17. Rakell’s shooting percentage (18.6 percent) and PDO (103.64) were among the league leaders and indicated the scoring pace was unsustainable, but he’s picked up where he left off in 2017-18 with 22 goals in 52 games. Since Getzlaf returned from injury on Dec. 11, Rakell has 14 goals and 29 points in 31 games.
Consider this: Not counting players currently on entry-level deals (Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, etc.), there are 28 players with as many or more goals than Rakell this season. Only eight of them come at a cheaper cost per goal ($172,247).
Under the same criteria, there are 43 players with as many or more points than Rakell, but only 11 of them come at a cheaper cost per point ($82,379). Would you rather be paying Rakell at this price or Patrick Kane ($477,273 per goal; $190,909 per point) at his?
Simply put, Rakell is one of the best bargains in the NHL and there is a case to be made he should be higher on this list.
2 - Ryan Getzlaf (three years, $8.25 million AAV)
If this was a list of who is the best player, Getzlaf would win in a landslide. Fresh off arguably his best postseason performance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Getzlaf has been as good as ever when healthy this year.
Here’s what hurts Getzlaf as an asset — for starters, he’s 32-years-old and will be 33 come May. Since 2005, only five players have averaged 0.95 points per game (Getzlaf’s career average) after turning 33 (Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Martin St. Louis, Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson). That suggests it’ll be hard for Getzlaf to continue at the pace he’s at.
He also doesn’t come cheap. Getzlaf’s AAV for the remainder of his deal is $8.25 million (with an actual salary of $8.95 million in 2018-19, though that shrinks to $8.25 million in 2019-20 and $6 million in 2020-21). Some teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings for example, just don’t have the cap space to take on Getzlaf’s contract — I’m no economist, but a smaller amount of bidders would be bad for the selling team in this hypothetical scenario.
There is an argument to be made that Getzlaf is actually underpaid. By the start of the 2018-19 season, Getzlaf will be the 10th-highest paid center in the league, and there are not nine better centers in the NHL than Ryan Getzlaf.
1 - Hampus Lindholm (four years, $5,205,556 million AAV)
Lindholm will never receive the notoriety of the Erik Karlssons, Drew Doughtys or Duncan Keiths, but he’s a total darling in the hockey analytics community. These stats, presented by Sportnet’s Dimitri Filipovic during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, have always stuck out when judging Lindholm’s greatness:
Filipovic’s point is that no defenseman was stingier at allowing opposing forwards to enter the zone than Lindholm (cover your eyes Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour). How about this next one:
On the flip side here are the best and worst with the puck when it comes to transitioning cleanly out of their own zone. pic.twitter.com/ttc4ViarjC— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 30, 2017
So not only is Lindholm fantastic at defending his own blue line, but when the puck is on his stick in the defensive zone, more than likely the Ducks are leaving with puck possession. This is in stark contrast to a player like Kevin Bieksa, who is content to shoot the puck off the glass from his own zone and give the puck right back to the other team.
He’ll likely never win a Norris Trophy because the goals and assist counts aren’t there, but the aforementioned data shows that Lindholm does more leg work to put the Ducks on the offensive than anyone. That, coupled with a very manageable contract, is why Hampus Lindholm is the Anaheim Ducks’ most valuable trade asset.