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Being Bob Murray

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Ever Wish Your GM Had Moved Someone Else?

Disclaimer: This is not a hit-piece on Bargain Bob. So if you came here to read me tear him to shreds over not really doing much at the deadline; move on. Ok maybe I grumble a little bit but the point is, this isnt about hating on him. Its about figuring out why he stayed pat.

As the resident Prospect and Gulls reporter for AC I find myself in the somewhat unusual position of being emotionally attached to hockey players born in the years that I was midway through high-school (scary thought, next years draft class will have been born in the year that I was grade 12). That is why I found myself preparing myself for the worst at the deadline. I had already predetermined that the on-loan to the Gulls Eric Fehr would be dealt as that was the Leafs only chance to unload his contract. But I also figured that with the current overflowing roster on the Gulls and the next wave of pro-eligible impact players arriving next season; we would have to say goodbye to perhaps some aging prospects.

Then nothing happened.

I wondered why.

Then I looked back through Bob Murray's drafts to see what he had done in deadlines past and noticed a curious trend with one recent turning point seemingly creating a possible psychological block.

Let’s look at Bobs deadlines year by year:

2009

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

They squeaked in at 8th seed and subsequently upset the Sharks in the first round before losing a game 7 to the Wings in the 2nd round. So... both?

Summary

Pahlsson was on the decline and it was time to move on, Stephenson had been acquired from the Coyotes 3 months before; he was 22ish at the time.

Kent Huskins was a solid 2nd pairing blueliner with an offensive touch whilst Moen was the veteran presence on the shutdown line along with Pahlsson; the Sharks likely thought they could use both to further their playoff run.

Wisniewski looks to be the only “for a possible playoff run” acquisition here. The rest are pure “fur the future” moves.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Yes.

O’Dell was taken in the 2nd round 39th overall just the draft prior and had totaled 63 points in 65 games in the OHL as well as a 4 points in 7 games showing at the U18s for Canada. Given where he was taken in the draft and his showing at the U18s, this could have been quite the gamble. However O’Dell later had heart complications and seems to have kicked around the AHL a bit before departing for the KHL in 2016. He did get in 2 points for Team Canada at these most recent Olympics.

Stephenson was technically a prospect but not one that Anaheim had drafted and based on his brief history in the organisation, clearly wasn't working out.

2010

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

Technically sellers, though they were in the hunt and only missed the playoffs by 6 points. The deals above do indicate seller.

Summary

Nokelainen didn't last long, getting dealt exactly a year after he was acquired. I think he was originally seen to be the next Sami Pahlsson but that didn't work. Toskalas terrible contract was acquired just 3 months earlier in the Jiggy trade and McElhinney was a much cheaper and better backup option. The Ryan Whitney experiment finally came to a close and the enlightened Lubo era began.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Yes.

Pogge was 23 and had been acquired just 6 months prior, he played with the farm team (at the time ECHL Bakersfield Condors since the Iowa Chops were suspended for that season) - I guess you could say he was a prospect. Steven Kampfer was in his last year of college and had some ... reputation issues ever since an incident involving a woman on campus. He had been drafted by the Ducks in the 4th round 93rd overall and put up pretty good numbers on the blueline for the University of Michigan. I am guessing this was a “too hard basket” type of deal though.

2011

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

They rolled into the playoffs as the 4th seed but were bounced in the first round as this was around about the time Jonas Hillers’ head got broken. So Buyers.

Summary

Winchester, McGrattan and Zimmerman were depth “playoff grit” type moves whilst the Dan Ellis acquisition was a panic “we need someone who wont break like Emery might” move. Lapierre was good on the PK but took too many penalties (hmmm) and McBackup played his part but ultimately Dan Ellis was more proven - especially for a playoff run.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Yes.

MacGregor Sharp was a 25 year old college signing who had seen 8 games with the Ducks the year prior. He had 50 points in 43 games in his Senior year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. David Laliberte was also 25 and playing in the AHL, he had 9 points in 30 games with the then-Ducks affiliate Syracuse Crunch.

2012

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

This was the season that Carlyle was fired toward the end of November and Boudreau came in to promote a more uptempo style but it was not enough and the Ducks finished 5th in the Pacific. They were Sellers but could not find a taker for the Jason Blake contract, both Gordon and Fraser were playing on the farm (Syracuse) and I am assuming these moves were meant to bolster the Crunch for their playoff drive but they bowed out in the first round in 5 games - for those that are interested here is the Crunch roster for that year. Some nice memories and old faces there.

Summary

Bob couldn't really do much - nobody wanted Blake's contract and the Ducks were out of the playoffs so he did his best to help out the farm.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Both Gordon and Fraser were 26 so no not really. But he wasn't buying either so its kind of a wash.

2013

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

In Boudreaus first full season with the team he took them to a division title and 3rd overall in the league, he also lost his first of many game 7’s in the first round against the Wings.... But yes the Ducks were buyers.

Summary

Lombardi had bounced around from Toronto to Phoenix then to the Ducks in the same season, putting up 16 total points in 49 games, he played 7 with the Ducks and produced exactly zero. McMillan was a 3rd round pick, 22 years old with 2 years experience spent between the Ducks and Crunch - his numbers were not bad but definitely declined in the years after this deal. Rosehill was a PTO that had been signed to a one year deal with the Ducks, he had played 33 games with the Admirals (the Ducks moved on from the Crunch at the end of previous season) scoring 8 points. Zolnierczyk had just over a year of middling NHL experience at the time but saw out the remainder of the season with the Admirals.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Yes, Brandon McMillan had been in the system two years but wasn't one of Bobs picks, he was taken in the summer just before Bob took over as GM.

2014

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

There is a trend here. Bruce took the Ducks to their second straight Division title but lost his second straight game 7 - this time in the 2nd round to the Kings... they were buyers but were only looking to upgrade on defence (arguably they should have been looking at center but hindsight is a wonderful thing)

Summary

This was the season the Ducks inadvertently started 4 number 1 goalies in the same year with Hiller, Andersen, Fasth and Gibson all getting starts throughout (this was also the year that Gibby started and got a shutout in his first ever playoff game). So with Edmonton dealing Bryz to the Wild they picked up Fasth off the Ducks for a 2015 3rd (later dealt to the Lightning for Eric Brewer urgh) and 2014 5th (Matt Berkovitz - played in USHL now in NCAA with Army but possibly retired). I remember being incredibly upset about the Alex Grant trade because he had been playing very well for the Admirals - Andre Petersson put up 16 points in 18 games for Norfolk and then subsequently left for the KHL; he hasn't been seen since. Dustin Penner was rumoured to be a “locker room distraction” / “Bob had had enough of his crap” type of deal and the 2014 4th became the conditional pick sent to Dallas for Robidas. It might have turned into a 3rd but Robidas broke his leg against his former team in the first round and the Ducks were thus pretty much screwed for the remainder of the playoffs.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Grant was 25 at the time so technically no but given his lack of NHL experience I guess you would still count him a prospect - that deal still doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense though. He scored 2 goals in his first two games with the Ducks for Pete’s sake! Still bitter.

2015

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

Same bat time same bat channel, BB lead the Ducks to their 3rd straight division title only this time they lost a game 7 in the conference finals to the Hawks. They were very much buyers but as you can see from the deals - Bob was far more aggressive than in years past.

Summary

If you can recall at the beginning of this piece I mentioned a certain turning point that I believe has lead to a possible psychological block. This is that turning point. The day Bob Murray traded highly touted Swedish prospect William “Wild Bill” Karlsson (and Rene Bourques contract as well as a 2015 2nd) for James Wisniewski and a 3rd round pick. You might say he wasn't regarded as highly touted at the time, after all the Ducks had Rickard Rakell and Max Friberg performing just as well if not better but it was admitted just this year that of all the players taken in that 2011 draft (Manson, Rakell, Gibson, Cramarossa, Welinski and Friberg) Karlsson was the one they wanted the most.

In what has to be considered the worst trade of his tenure thus far, Wisnieski did not play a single game in the Ducks playoff run whilst Karlsson is now the franchise center for Vegas. The 2015 3rd became Brent Gates a 6’1” 196lb Center who has 26 points in 38 games with the University of Minneosta in this his Junior year. For comparison, Troy Terry taken 2 rounds after; has 37 in 32 games - also his Junior year. There isn't a heck of a lot to say about the other deals; the Depres move was a good one at the time and nobody could have foreseen the terrible head injury that would eventually end his career. Eric Brewer was a mistaken panic acquisition when the Ducks were thin on the blueline and they had to give up a 5th round pick just to be rid of his contract. Clark had been in the system too long without showing signs of cracking the big club so Sgarbossa was an upgrade on youth - he would be eventually be flipped for Logan Shaw. Again Murry had to deal a pick just to be rid of Heatley and his contract but Fleischmann was a good grab for bottom 6 depth. Finally - the Sekac trade that began Ricky Etem Cakes. Many at the time questioned dealing DSP when he had done so well in the playoffs the year before but there was no denying the talent and speed Sekac could bring.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Yes. A big fat yes. He dealt the one prospect that Martin Madden apparently coveted the most.

2016

Deals

nhltradetracker

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

The cycle repeats. The Ducks were division title winners for the 4th straight year but were bounced in the first round ... in 7 games. In a series that they lead 3-2. They were buyers. But if you notice from the deals above. Murray did not deal any prospects. At least not at the deadline. He had dealt Max Friberg to Montreal for Dustin Tokarski a month prior but at the deadline, there was no blockbuster deal involving a prospect.

Summary

Brandon Perri was a pure rental despite many in the fanbase calling for him to be re-inked due to his strong corsi numbers. The 2016 6th rounder became Maxim Mamin, currently a rookie with the Panthers this year and contributing 2 points in 15 games whilst putting up 25 points in 32 games in the AHL. The conditional pick in the McGinn deal ended up with Nashville (dont ask how, but it went through 5 teams) where they selected Rem Pitlick (cousin to the Stars Tyler Pitlick) in the 3rd round of 2015. Pitlick is currently a sophmore for the University of Minnesota with 31 points in 38 games. Tim Jackman was dealt for Corey Tropp - depth on the Gulls and to help their first ever playoff drive - he has since re-inked and as I stated in my most recent MOTF piece, should definitely be the first captain in the reborn franchise. The Patrick Maroon deal was and still is a head-scratch-er. He was having an off year - with 13 points in 56 games so perhaps Bob felt he was done but holy crap was the return bad; particularly given the Oilers immediately tagged him with McDavid and he put up 14 points in 16 games to finish the season. Gernat played 5 games for the Gulls then left for the Czech Republic and the 4th rounder turned into Jack Kopacka (59 points in 61 games). Kopacka had a particularly good (and surprising) camp at the beginning of this season so there is still hope there and for comparison Maroon had 90 points in 64 games in his one season in the OHL.

Did Bob trade prospects?

Nope.

2017

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

In Carlyle's return they remarkably finished 1st in the division yet again - 5 straight division titles. Going as far as the conference finals before losing out to the Predators with a severely battered and bruised line-up. Patrick Eaves was the lone acquisition for the playoff drive. A rare use of an eventual first round pick; but Bob was clear from the get-go that he did not see Eaves as a rental. The conditional 2nd rounder turned into a 1st due to Eaves playing in 50% of the Ducks playoff drive as well as Anaheim making the conference finals. Dallas flipped it to Chicago in a separate trade and the Blackhawks used the 29th overall choice to select Henri Jokiharju; the sleek Finnish defender has 67 points in 58 games for the Portland Winterhawks this season.

Summary

The Eaves deal definitely helped in the playoff run and securing him for a further two years was a good idea also - even it if meant he missed the first year with a freak debilitating ailment. As in the previous season - Bob made sure to help the Gulls with the acquisition of veteran AHL scorers Abbott and Carrick on expiring deals. Both the Tropp and Abbott/Carrick deals have been brilliant moves on his part - taking advantage of Chicago’s cap-hell for the benefit of the development in San Diego.

Did Bob trade prospects?

No. Kenton Helgesen was a 7th rounder, stuck in the ECHL with no signs of improving much further. He was 22 at the time of the trade. Technically yes he is a prospect. But not a good one.

2018

Deals

nhltradetracker.com

Were the Ducks Buyers or Sellers?

Hard to say. With how tight the Pacific Division is - they are currently fluctuating from anywhere between 2nd in the division to 2nd wild card choice. But they were essentially and most definitely should have been buyers at this years deadline - I think we can all agree on that. The cup window is rapidly shrinking and the prospect line is currently full. Bob could afford to deal at least one of Pettersson or Larsson if he wanted to go all in. Or at the very least he could have packaged maybe a Blandisi, a Dostie, a Kerdiles with a roster player for some form of mid-tier forward such as Thomas Vanek or Michael Grabner.

Summary

The most confusing move(s) possibly since the Wild Bill trade. Chris Wagner is a prototypical Duck, and I think we will all miss his one massive hit per game, there had been some memorable ones over the years. Jason Chimera is... old. Acquiring him and signing Chris Kelly to bring more “speed” is still some weird-ass hockey-speak for what is I guess “we need some gritty sandpaper veteran type guys for the playoffs” - which is again super strange that they sacrificed Wagner - the very definition of that (minus the veteran) to get it.

Did Bob trade prospects

Nope! None whatsoever! Despite their being plenty for him to choose from. Here is a list of prospects currently on expiring RFA deals. Kalle Kossila, Andy Welinski, Kevin Roy, Kevin Boyle, Nic Kerdiles and here is another list of players on expiring UFA deals. Jared Boll, Reto Berra, Scott Sabourin, Michael Liambas, Corey Tropp , JT Brown and Derek Grant. It isn't going to hurt to see most or all of those UFAs leave but if the Ducks were even just a tiny bit in the selling mood they could have at least gotten maybe a 6th rounder for one of them?

Finally

So to swing back around and prove my point. Bob didn't appear to have a problem dealing prospects at the deadline up until that terrible Wild Bill trade in 2015. At the two deadlines since he has only ever dealt picks or bottom 6 roster players. The frustrating thing being - if ever there were a season to deal from the farm, this was the one to do it. It will be interesting to see what happens at the draft. What do you think the Ducks do at the draft or at free agency? Do they clear out some of their current prospects for more draft picks or do they create room on the roster for the likes of Kevin Roy and Kalle Kossila to graduate full time? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.