If the Anaheim Ducks are still out of the playoffs in February, they should consider some trades
The Anaheim Ducks remain out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. This is largely because of an injury bug, which has affected the team since the beginning of the season. As the Ducks have gotten healthy, they haven’t gotten better though. In their last 10 games, they’re 5-4-1 and have lost two in a row (one in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers, the other against the Calgary Flames in regulation).
So maybe the Ducks should consider selling pieces at the deadline. There are 10 players on the Anaheim Ducks roster who reach free agency in some shape or another this season. Trading pieces might not be the worst thing.
Who Gets Traded
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Antoine Vermette is 35 years old and has a $1.75 million cap hit. That’s a tradeable contract for a useful player. Vermette can play bottom six minutes, score points (he has 16 in his first 43 games), and win faceoffs better than most of his peers. He can elevate the play of the bottom six wings he’s assigned.
Trading Vermette would bring back a decent return, probably a third or fourth-round pick. That’s value for someone who could potentially walk away at the end of the season. There are many contenders who could use a cheap depth center and would be willing to pay to get him.
Derek Grant can score points and win faceoffs. He’s younger than Vermette and brings some additional skill. Grant could fetch a low second to a third. Vermette and Grant could be a package deal somewhere like Pittsburgh and bring back even more. Chris Wagner also fits that depth center on a contender role. His return should be around a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Finally, Francois Beauchemin is a 37-year-old defenseman who has seen his best days pass by him. He’s on a one-year contract worth only $1 million. For a bottom pairing defenseman who can provide some leadership to a younger defenseman, that’s a contract a team will be glad to take on. He won’t get the same return as Kimmo Timonen, but that’s the closest comparable.
The core should be untouchable. Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Cam Fowler. Plus, don’t think of trading the goaltenders – John Gibson will be the best in the league in five years. The skaters with more than a year left on their contract. I don’t know if Adam Henrique is considered core, but he should be untouchable as well, same with Brandon Montour.
Then there’s expiring contracts like Andrew Cogliano, the Anaheim Ducks’ ironman. He should be brought back by Anaheim, and therefore shouldn’t be traded. He’s too valuable for any return that isn’t an overpayment.
I feel like Logan Shaw should be considered the same as Cogliano. He hasn’t been as productive offensively, but he plays his fourth line role well and has really grown into himself this season. While he’s a restricted free agent after this season, he’ll still be within team control. That’s not worth giving up.
So, with the Ducks shipping out depth players, who do they get to replace them? They can’t play the rest of the season without a third and fourth line center. It’s perhaps time for the youth movement to affect the Ducks. With the outgoing of the old, the incoming of the new could help make the Anaheim Ducks real contenders again.
This season could see Kevin Roy, Mitch Hults, Alex Dostie, Giovanni Fiore, and Julius Nattinen get a look at the NHL from the AHL. They’re all young, and if they do well, could get a long-term spot for the Ducks.
At the same time, if they don’t perform well, the Ducks also have more proven players like Dennis Rasmussen, Joseph Blandisi, and Sam Carrick at the AHL level. Those guys can come up for the rest of the season, should be incorporating youth all at once prove to be too much.
Then, for the long-term, the Ducks have a super prospect in Sam Steel. He’s bound to become the third center to Kesler and Getzlaf, at least until he surpasses them as they age and he reaches his prime. There’s also Kalle Kossila, and the Ducks traded for Blandisi because he likely fits into the Ducks’ long-term plans. Plus, if Steel is brought up for a skilled third line, there’s always the possibility that Henrique centers a more skilled fourth line.
The point is, it’s time to get younger for the Ducks. That means selling off older pieces to incorporate the new. This could help them extend their window for contending.