Over the next two weeks, sportsnet.ca will be taking an in-depth look at some key teams and the decisions facing them leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29. Today: Anaheim Ducks.
General Manager: Bob Murray
2016 Draft Picks: 1st (ANA); 2nd (none); 3rd (FLA, ANA); 4th (ANA); 5th (none); 6th (ANA); 7th (ANA)
Cap space on deadline day: $7,274,996
Team mode: Win now.
Cap, no-move and draft pick data via generalfanager
Through five games of the Western Conference Final last spring, the Anaheim Ducks were the better team. They went into Chicago for Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead and the Stanley Cup Final within reach, and three days later the Ducks were ousted. To Anaheim, it seemed like it all happened in about five minutes.
In the end, the feeling was that the Chicago Blackhawks‘ best players — Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane — simply outperformed Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and there isn’t really a page in the GM’s handbook on how to handle that. Not when both guys are signed though 2021 with no movement clauses.
So with the Feb. 29 trade deadline around the corner, the next best solution for GM Bob Murray will be to strengthen the supporting cast around his two franchise players.
With Getzlaf and Perry having been split up during much of Anaheim’s recent 11-2-1 stretch, the Ducks have a different look. But by putting those two on different lines, it also opens up the need for further support scoring up front.
The Carl Hagelin experiment didn’t work in Anaheim, but they shipped him out for David Perron, who has one more goal (5) in a dozen games with Anaheim than he had in 43 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Still, the Ducks are looking for a boost on the wing heading into the post-season. Ideally that boost comes from the Winnipeg Jets in the form of Andrew Ladd — and there’s every chance the Jets could make that happen for two reasons: One, Chicago is very hot on Ladd, and getting the player that one of your chief opponents covets is simply good business. Two, the Jets are believed to want a defenceman in any Ladd deal, and there is no team in the NHL better stocked to make that happen than the Ducks.
Murray has become the best GM in hockey at stocking his blue-line through the draft. With Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Simon Despres, Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson, the Ducks have five legit NHL defencemen under the age of 25 on their current blue-line.
Add to that 20-year-old Shea Theodore, who is knocking on the door, 21-year-old farmhand Brandon Montour (38 points in 44 AHL games this season), and 18-year-old Jacob Larsson (6-2, 190 lbs. and already in the Swedish Elite League), and the Ducks can part with a quality young defenceman for a winger they covet.
The Ducks are just fine in goal with John Gibson and Frederik Andersson. They’re good on defence and up the middle with Getzlaf, an emerging Rickard Rakell and Ryan Kesler. So they need a winger who can score.
It is believed that size is a priority in any acquisition, owing to the fact the Ducks will have to get through the rugged Los Angeles Kings to get out of the Pacific. That may put the Arizona Coyotes‘ Mikkel Boedker into the picture as a rental.