Now that the Stanley Cup Final is over and Ovechkin has unofficially been awarded the MVP of benders, it’s time to begin looking at the Ducks offseason plans. The lead up to the draft is always a time filled with hopeless optimism (unless you’re an Oilers fan I suppose), and rumours abound everywhere.
The Ducks are of course notoriously tight lipped, and there hasn't been much in the way communication from the organization since the end of season press conference. The press conference in which GM Bob Murray stated his aims of sticking with the same coach and playing a faster style of hockey, while also calling out some of his senior players for the team not winning.
Since that time, 3rd party hockey-news organizations and sites, as well as general fan rumours, have floated the idea that players like Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg may be on the trade block - for differing reasons. But there is no surety, and no clear indication of what the Ducks may consider to be doing.
As a team the Ducks appear to be on the downward slope from being a perennial playoff team (although given the state of the Pacific Division they could remain in that state). Yet with news of second-line centre Ryan Kesler potentially missing the coming season - and assuming the rumours of a required hip replacement are true, that he may miss every season from here on in - the Ducks are in a state of far less certainty. Their heavy hitters are, for the most part, aging, and there is a large gap in age between the elder statesmen and the younger crop coming through - in essence only Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg occupy the space between the elder Ryan Getzlaf and younger Rickard Rakell.
This age group collection will make it difficult for the Ducks to continue to attempt to contend for a cup as they are currently built as a “sustained success” model. They are essentially on the knife’s edge in which they can continue to attempt to contend, or they can attempt to rebuild or retool. The downsides of failing at either should be clear, but if not I’ll spell it out:
- The Ducks continue to attempt to contend, and if they fail or trade away further assets (from a mediocre-rated prospect pool) they ensure that their future is as a cellar dweller. The Calgary Flames are a cautionary tale, as they were most often a mediocre bubble team that attempted to play playoff hockey rather than ripping the band-aid off and rebuilding like they aught to have.
- The Ducks rebuild and sell off certain key players. This will likely weaken the current team and potentially contribute to them miss the playoffs for the first time in years. It is also reliant on the draft picks and prospects coming back (in the trades) turning out as solid enough players to propel the Ducks back into contention. The Edmonton Oilers with their 1 million #1 overall picks and perennial mediocrity are the cautionary tale here.
- Oddly enough there may be a third option in which the Ducks try to do a little bit of everything. Keep making the playoffs (although realizing they’re unlikely to win), but rebuild for the future. Given that the Washington Capitals worst team in years won the cup and that they were competing against a team made up of the leagues off-casts and unwanted, it’s plausible that a win could happen by pure chance. Given that a Ducks team that missed many of their better players for large parts of the season ended up as 2nd in the Pacific Division, the stage could also be set to rebuild while continuing to make playoff revenue. This is probably the most optimistic of the choices, and certainly the one that fits the sales pitch that the Ducks organization has preached since Bob Murray took over the reigns.
With those options on the table, I’d like to throw together some trade ideas for you to all hate me over and discuss my shortcomings. Each of the trades would be considered in isolation, not as a group of trades. Each may lean toward one of the above 3 paths more than another.
Jakob Silfverberg & the 23rd pick to the Montreal Canadiens for the 35th, 38th, 56th & 62nd draft picks.
To kick this off, I really want to be yelled at by two fanbases.
For the Ducks:
For the Ducks this move is based on a number of factors.
- Anaheim are chock full at the right wing position. Patrick Eaves, Corey Perry and Ondrej Kase are all sure to be playing, and harder to move for various reasons than the man affectionately known as Silf. Eaves for example is oft injured, and while he is aging he did produce when healthy for the Ducks. Nonetheless a guy who’s a lock to miss 30 games a season and has only had one good year, aught to be more difficult to move than Silfverberg given Eaves inflated contract (relative to his on ice value). Kase is a cheap 20 goal scorer who they won’t want to let go. Perry, while under pressure from management, simply wont bring back a return that will equal his on-ice contribution as the Ducks 3rd best scorer. Prospects such as Troy Terry will also be looking to pick up game time in scoring (i.e. top 9) roles. Taken together, this suggests that one of the current top 9 right wings should be moved out of town, and that Silf is the easiest player of that group to move.
- Bob Murray has an incredible strike rate on his 2nd round picks during his tenure with the Ducks. While the value of a second round pick typically diminishes, Murray has found great value with these picks. An accumulation of talent that is likely to play sets the Ducks prospect pool right back up again and helps to produce that sustainable future.
- The Ducks cap space could be getting tight going forward. Moving Silfverberg gives the Ducks freedom moving into next season and beyond.
- Bob Murray is relatively risk adverse. The Ducks are extremely unlikely to draft a player such as Grigori Denisenko, and are much more likely to pick a safe player. Given that the draft has collections of players who are relatively similar, it’s plausible that the Ducks could find players they like in the second round, and who they could have considered drafting with the 23rd selection. The additional picks may also allow the Ducks to play with house money so to speak, and grab boom or bust players such as Niklas Nordgren (see Alex Debrincat as a comparative, of sorts at least), thus mitigating the loss of a higher draft pick and going outside of the norm of picking only safe players.
In a nut shell, this trade is two trades mashed into one. Bob Murray, in the past, has traded down from a late 1st round pick to an even later 1st round pick and a 2nd rounder (eventually selecting Rakell and John Gibson), so this move is only slightly worse than that one when comparing the value of draft picks.
Bob Murray has also shown a trend to move established players for prospects and/or draft picks. In this instance, Murray cap dumps a middle 6 player for multiple 2nd round picks - a better return on investment than the one he got while moving Kyle Palmieri in the past.
As one of the teams that can absorb a contract and has multiple picks, the Canadiens make a good dance partner for Murray, in that both teams can “win” this trade - or at least sell it as a win. In the short term, the Canadiens clearly get the better draft pick and player. However, the Ducks get a lot of future, and they clear the log jam of money and personnel clamouring to play in the same position. In essence, they’ll be fixing their own mistake but they do it in a manner that the draftnicks will love and that can be sold to the fans as a win for the team.
At the completion of this trade the Ducks would have five 2nd round picks, two 3rd round picks, a 4th round pick, a 5th round pick, and a 6th round pick in the draft. A situation which allows them to add a solid selection of talent to a prospect pool that has some glaring deficiencies in the present day. The Ducks also clear a roster spot, ensuring that the current top 9 grouping is set with the opportunity for their prospects to get valuable NHL game time in roles suited for them.
For the Canadiens:
Marc Bergevin is a GM that is willing to take some chances, which is why he may be willing to pull the trigger here. With the 23rd overall pick Bergevin gets the chance to add the mecurial playmaking of Grigori Denisenko to the goal scoring potential of his #3 overall pick, Filip Zadina. With that swift move, the Canadiens add two players who are easily in the top 5 of the draft on talent alone, and their rebuild begins in earnest. That opportunity is a worthy swap for what would be a relatively typical trade of two 2nd rounders for a late 1st rounder. In other words, the Canadiens trade the chance of two “middle 6 types” (based on potential, and likely draft pick value) for the potential of a top line scoring winger.
In addition to that bold move, Bergevin adds a player who nearly automatically becomes their best RW in Jakob Silfverberg. As things currently stand, the Canadiens can absorb Silfverberg’s contract and the likely extension he would receive following the completion of this current season.
He provides them with a ~45 point per year forward who is responsible in his own end. Just as two 2nd round picks are a good swap for a late 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks are a fair swap for a good-aged (27 years old) forward who fits inside their top 6. Silfverberg allows them to be competitive on a night to night basis now, but more importantly allows them to shelter the next generation for a good period of time.
At the completion of this trade the Canadiens still have two 1st round picks, a 3rd round pick, three 4th round picks, a 5th round pick at the draft table, as well as a top 6 forward they can add into their mix immediately.
Nick Ritchie & the 85th pick to the Edmonton Oilers for the 40th overall draft pick
In 2016 the Edmonton Oilers moved the former #1 overall draft pick Nail Yakupov for a prospect picked in the 4th round and a conditional 3rd round pick (the condition being if “Yak” scored 15 goals it would turn into a 2nd round pick). In his first 3 seasons with the Oilers, Yak put up 31, 24, and 33 point seasons. Comparatively, Nick Ritchie was the #10 overall pick and has since put up 28 and 27 point seasons.
For the Ducks
The Ducks take a leaf out of history and move an underperforming former high draft pick. However, rather than take a prospect is unlikely to ever play and a lower round draft pick in return, the Ducks endeavour to move higher into the draft by using Ritchie to move from the 85th overall pick to early in the 2nd round. While this may be considered a poor return on investment, the future expansion draft should be considered as well as the diminishing returns that Ritchie is currently providing.
For the former issue (the draft), the rules given to the Las Vegas team would ensure that Ritchie would be available for the new team to select. In this instance the Ducks would either have to protect him (something that may be problematic assuming Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are still on the books), or risk losing a former #10 draft pick for nothing. Even assuming Ritchie doesn't pick up his play, that would be a terrible waste of an asset from an organizational standpoint. Moving him now could circumvent that issue and provide a return on that asset, in what is widely considered to be a relatively strong draft.
The latter issue (depreciating assets) is also a concern for the Ducks. Surely a 25-30 point scorer has value in a bottom 6 role, however they are quite easy to acquire in trade and thus may not have the value of a 2nd round pick. The other concern is Ritchie’s play away from the puck. In his short career he has already been suspended, and has “gotten away” with some other decisions that perhaps should have been more harshly dealt with. Continuing in this manner would further deteriorate his value. In essence, Ritchie has turned himself into a poor man’s Tom Wilson. The Ducks already have a poor reputation around the league, and for better or worse, Ritchie has added to that long standing reputation - consider that it’s very difficult to change a reputation, you merely add to it. The Ducks need to determine what type of team they’re going to be going forward. Should they wish to continue in the same manner, then Ritchie is a fine part of that model (although in a bottom 6 role). In which case they as players, and we as fans, need to never mention the referee’s again as a affecting part of the game. However should the Ducks wish to take less penalties and clean up their game, then perhaps it would be better to move on from players who draw the eye and the ire of the officials. Ritchie in this instance, is one of many who does that.
There is, of course, danger that Ritchie could turn it all around and become the player he was in his extremely short time in the AHL. However, that seems to be a distant memory, as Yakupov shows us he may never reach the heights that his pre-NHL career suggested. Getting the value of a 2nd round pick from him may prove to be a quality move considering that Murray has a solid track record of acquiring middle 6 players in that draft range.
At the completion of this trade the Ducks hold a 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks, two 3rd round picks, a 4th round pick, a 5th round pick, and a 6th round pick. They also clear a top 9 roster spot should they wish to experiment with moving either Eaves, Kase, or Silfverberg to the left side - thus filling all the top 9 wing spots with players already on their list and aliviating some of the roster log jam on the right wing side.
For the Oilers
As the rumour mill goes, the Oilers are trying to move Milan Lucic. This likely has a lot to do with his mediocre play and his fat paycheck. Nonetheless, should they succeed in making that move, they may like a cheap player of similar ilk to take his place. For them, Ritchie can play that big man role and as a former top 10 pick with the potential to score heavily. Given that Ritchie’s new contract is likely to be team friendly, this helps the Oilers given the big money they have handed out in recent times. Should they sign Ritchie for - lets say - a 4 year term, and he shows that he can hang with one of the Oilers top 6 players, they may find that they have a steal on their hands.
Ritchie also fits in with the age group of the Oilers up and coming - and already arrived - stars. This should help him acclimatize to the environment and potentially settle in to play his best hockey. A second round pick is a small price to pay for the potential upside, and a cheap player of the type that they may require in the near future should their current plans to move Lucic pan out.
The downside is also limited for them, in that if he doesn't pan out to expectations, the entry draft is around the corner, and Ritchie could be dangled as bait to prevent a better player being taken.
At the completion of this trade the Oilers hold a 1st round pick, two 3rd round picks, a 5th round pick, a 6th round pick and a 7th round pick in the 2018 draft. They also acquire a cheap reclamation project that should fit on their left side, given the dearth of quality left wings they have in the system.
Adam Henrique, Brandon Montour, the 23rd pick and the 79th pick to the Ottawa Senators for Erik Karlsson.
Bob Murray swings for the biggest fence he can find in order to keep the cup contender train rolling along. In doing so he also picks up the player who can make his dreams of a fast, dominant system come to life, and he does so on the cheap.
For the Ducks
This trade is very heavily dependant on Ryan Kesler’s well being and if Karlsson can be convinced to sign his 12 million dollar (face it, this is real) extension with the Ducks. However, should that all prove to be true, the Ducks acquire very nearly the same scoring they lose in moving Henrique and Montour (68 points combined to Karlsson’s 62, last season), and a clear difference maker on their defence.
For a team that is extremely reliant on their defence, the Ducks let John Gibson do much of the work last season...to the extent that one might suggest they were actually a poor team, and Gibson was in fact the sole reason they weren't in the lottery. Should Gibson’s save percentage have been merely league average, instead of the godly numbers he actually presented, the Ducks would have been picking in the top 10 (approximately 5th overall).
Acquiring Karlsson changes that narrative substantially. The top 4 players in their defensive unit, become a genuine superstar and a solid 2nd pairing guy, as well as a pairing that is far greater than their parts. All of which can log heavy minutes in all situations. Given Randy Carlyle’s abhorrence of playing the 3rd pairing, having a minute munching stud muffin on the back end provides a dividend that can’t be merely explained by stats, nor the eye test. It would also provide a spring board for a far faster offensive system to be implemented, which was the one remark that stood out in Bob Murray’s end of season press conference.
So far as what they’d be giving up, Henrique was a solid player after being traded to the Ducks for one of the greatest players ever... Regardless, Henrique is out of contract at seasons end, and the Ducks can ill afford to pay a 3rd line centre Ryan Kesler money - a number that will surely be similar to what Henrique will be asking for. This move would somewhat weaken the Ducks strength at centre ice, or gut it entirely if Kesler is on the bench. Yet you have to give to get, and the return is so great as to eclipse this loss.
Montour as well would be a tough loss, given his youth and cost-controlled contract. However, once again the return is far greater. The same could be said for giving up the pick. Yet it is known that Murray likes to “win” his trades, and this is actually a relatively cheap deal when compared to the return that Chris Pronger received - at least in terms of total assets, and that one of the assets is out of contract in the coming year. A cheap deal born about by the current climate in the Senators organization. Given Murray preyed upon the Canucks when Kelser wanted out, this could be a red flag waved in front of a bull.
At the completion of this trade the Ducks hold a 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick, a 4th round pick, a 5th round pick and a 6th round pick. They get a whole bunch of leadership. They get a lot more interesting to watch. They also sell the most jerseys they've sold since Danny Heatley became a Duck, maybe even more.
For the Senators
The Senators are a mess. Their best goal scorer is feuding with the best player they've ever had in their history, and now both players need to be moved on. It is such a toxic environment that it seems likely that many players will not want to move to, and thus RFA’s and picks will become the most necessary currency.
To that end, Brandon Montour is a godsend. A restricted free agent who played top pairing minutes on a playoff team in the past season. A player that, while not heavily used, could easily grow into a power play performer. This is the draw card that the Senators can’t quite walk past, and the player who trumps all the other offers on the table. Obviously Montour cannot replace the man who is leaving, but as far as consolation prizes go he’s not too bad - especially considering how Shea Theodore panned out in his first season out of the Duck pond.
Adam Henrique is the replacement for Mike Hoffman when he inevitably is moved on. As a consistent 20 goal scorer, Henrique can be asked to somewhat cover the goal scoring on what would be a very skinny offensive list going forward. His versatility in being able to cover the LW and C spots will provide great value for the Sens moving forward.
There is no doubt that the Senators lose this trade. However that was going to be the case as soon as it started being mentioned that Karlsson would be on the move. This has only been amplified by the news that has recently come to light.
At the completion of this trade the Senators hold three 1st round picks, a 3rd round pick, a 4th round pick, a 5th round pick, a 6th round pick and two 7th round picks in the draft. In addition they pick up a top 6 forward and a top 4 defenceman they can use in the very next season.
Jacob Larsson, and the 54th pick to the Washington Capitals for Lars Eller, Brooks Orpik and the 93rd pick
This trade is one to keep the Ducks in the status quo for the time being, as well as allowing the Capitals to re-sign a very important player.
For the Ducks
This is potentially not the best trade the Ducks could make, but it’s a trade I think they could conceivably consider. Assuming Ryan Kesler is on the shelf this season, Bob Murray may look for a middle 6 pivot that can fill that gap. Eller is a long term signed player who fits the mold of the leadership-style player Murray could like (or has liked in the past), as he’s just come off a fine performance in the cup final. However to acquire this player, Murray is asked to take on a contract to help the Caps out. Enter Orpik.
Murray would have seen his defence get toyed with in the Final this season, and with the gritty veterans Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin leaving the team, questions could remain as to how he can improve the defence. Orpik played most recently in the cup final which multiplies his leadership by a factor of 50, and he’s only signed for the next season. This would allow Montour to further develop his game before being required to take on a heavier burden, and allow Pettersson to thrive in an offensively orientated role off the third pairing. There probably isn't a good argument for bringing in Orpik, but there hasn't been a good one for any of the other veteran defensemen that Murray has acquired either. So whatever he said about those trades consider the same here.
Ultimately this trade doesn't really improve the Ducks, but it keeps them more or less the same as seasons prior. That is, good enough to be a playoff team, but not quite good enough to be seriously considered a contender... that said, as I mentioned above, the weakest Capitals team in years beat a team of misfits to win the Stanley Cup. Orpik and Eller played for that winning team, so maybe they bring some of that magic over with them.
For the Capitals
This is a cap dump plain and simple. The Caps desperately need to keep John Carlson around and they need the money to do so. Packaging Orpik’s contract with that of another player (who also costs relatively substantial money), is a fine way to manage this. The Caps may still have some issues going forward, but they manage to lock up their best defender with the outgoing money, and they acquire a young cost controlled player who may have considerable upside.
Speaking of the Caps.....
Corey Perry to the Washington Capitals for Alex Ovechkin
Shut up. Let me have this one.
I’m fully aware that not all of these work, and that I’m probably overvaluing the Ducks players, so feel free to discuss and add any ideas you may have in the comments. Try to keep them somewhat reasonable however...we’re not Leafs fans here (James van Riemsdyk and a 2nd for Fowler- e4).