Tag Archives: Anaheim Ducks

Debunking the myth that Murray built the Ducks as Cup champions

When I wrote my post a few weeks ago about Bryan Murray being fired, one of the most familiar refrains I continually heard was that Murray pretty much built the 2007 Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.

This has been repeated so much by so many people that it’s basically taken as fact. It’s a statement that is used to make Murray look like a shrewd GM, and make it seem like he’s done a great job of doing the same here in Ottawa.

However, the statement is a lie. Murray had little to do with 2007 Cup champions. The facts back this up. The majority of that squad was built by other GMs, and even most of the core was constructed by other general managers.

Here’s a look at every single member of that team that won the Stanley Cup, and how they became members of the Anaheim Ducks.

Goalies

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, 13-4, .922 save percentage, 1.97 GAA: Traded to Anaheim by Calgary for Anaheim’s second round choice in 2000 Entry Draft on June 10, 2000. GM at the time: Pierre Gauthier

Ilya Bryzgalov, 3-1, .922 save percentage, 2.25 GAA: Drafted by Anaheim in the second round (44th overall) of the 2000 NHL entry draft. GM at the time: Pierre Gauthier

Defencemen

Chris Pronger, 19 games, three goals, 12 assists, 30:11 minutes a night:  Traded to Anaheim on July 3, 2006 by Edmonton for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, Anaheim’s 1st round choice in 2007 Entry Draft and Anaheim’s 1st and 2nd round choices in 2008 Entry Draft. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Scott Niedermayer, 21 GP, three goals, eight assists, 29:51 minutes a night: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim on August 4, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Francois Beauchemin, 20 GP, four goals, four assists, 30:33 minutes a night: Traded to Anaheim by Columbus with Tyler Wright for Sergei Fedorov and Anaheim’s 5th round choice in 2006 Entry Draft on November 15, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Rik Jackman, seven GPs, one goal, one assist: Traded to Anaheim by Florida for Anaheim’s 6th round choice in 2007 Entry Draft on January 3, 2007. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Sean O’Donnell, 21 GPs, two assists, 20:20 minutes a night: Traded to Anaheim by Phoenix for Joel Perreault on March 9, 2006. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Kent Huskins, 21 GPs, one assist: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, August 30, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke.

Joe DiPenta, 16 GP: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, August 11, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke.

Aaron Rome, one game played: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, June 7, 2004. GM at the time: Al Coates

Forwards

Andy McDonald, 21 games played, 10 goals, four assists: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, April 3, 2000. GM at the time: Pierre Gauthier

Ryan Getzlaf, 21 games played, seven goals, 10 assists: Drafted by Anaheim in the first round (19th overall), 2003 NHL Entry draft. GM at the time: Bryan Murray

Travis Moen, 21 games played, seven goals, five assists: Traded to Anaheim by Chicago for Michael Holmqvist, July 30, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Corey Perry, 21 games played, six goals, nine assists: Drafted by Anaheim in the first round (28th overall), 2003 NHL Entry Draft. GM at the time: Bryan Murray

Teemu Selanne, 21 games played, five goals, 10 assists: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, August 22, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Rob Niedermayer, 21 games played, five goals, five assists: Traded to Anaheim by Calgary for Mike Commodore and Jean-Francois Damphousse, March 11, 2003. GM at the time: Bryan Murray

Samuel Pahlsson, 21 games played, three goals, nine assists: Traded to Anaheim by Boston for Patrick Traverse and Andrei Nazarov, November 18, 2000. GM at the time: Pierre Gauthier

Dustin Penner, 21 games played, three goals, five assists: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, May 12, 2004. GM at the time: Bryan Murray

Chris Kunitz, 13 games played, one goal, five assists: Claimed on waivers by Anaheim from Atlanta, October 18, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Todd Marchant, 11 games played, zero goals, three assists: Claimed on waivers by Anaheim from Columbus, November 21, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Brad May, 18 games played, zero goals, one assist: Traded to Anaheim by Colorado for Michael Wall, February 27, 2007. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Shawn Thornton, 15 games played, zero points: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, July 14, 2006. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Ryan Shannon, 11 games played, zero points: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, November 28, 2005. GM at the time: Brian Burke

George Parros, five games played, zero points: Traded to Anaheim by Colorado with Colorado’s 3rd round choice in 2007 Entry Draft for Atlanta’s 2nd round choice in 2007 Entry Draft and Anaheim’s 3rd round choice in 2007 Entry Draft, November 13, 2006. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Ryan Carter, four games played, zero points: Signed as a free agent by Anaheim, July 12, 2006. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Drew Miller, three games played, zero points: Drafted by Anaheim in the sixth round (186th overall), 2003 NHL Entry Draft. GM at the time: Bryan Murray

Joe Motzko, three games played, zero points: Traded to Anaheim by Columbus with Mark Hartigan and Columbus’ 4th round choice in 2007 Entry Draft for Zenon Konopka, Curtis Glencross and Anaheim’s seventh round choice in 2007 Entry Draft, January 26, 2007. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Mark Hartigan, one game played, zero points: Traded to Anaheim by Columbus with Joe Motzko and Columbus’4th round choice in 2007 Entry Draft for Zenon Konopka, Curtis Glencross and Anaheim’s 7th round choice in 2007 Entry Draft, January 26, 2007. GM at the time: Brian Burke

Conclusion

So there you have it. Most people will point to the Perry-Getzlaf-Penner line. But that’s about all Murray had a hand in.

The Ducks won the Cup that year for four reasons.

1) The big three defencemen: Pronger, Niedermayer and Beauchemin all averaged around 30 minutes a night, and did a great job shutting down other teams’ top lines. Murray did not bring in any of those defencemen (or any Cup-winning dmen at all).

2) Their goalies were lights out. Most of the time it was J.S. Giguere, but no matter who was in net, they were great. Murray had nothing to do with that.

3) The Ducks had a great shutdown line in Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen. Murray brought in Niedermayer, the other two were brought in by Brian Burke.

4) Their timely scoring. It mostly came from three people: Selanne, McDonald and Getzlaf. While Murray drafted Getzlaf, he had nothing to do with the other guys.

In fact, of 28 players that played at least one game for the Ducks that playoff season, Murray brought in five of them. That’s it.

Murray doesn’t know how to build a Cup contender, and there’s nothing in his GM history to show otherwise.

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Is Ryan Getzlaf the next Scott Gomez?

A few weeks back, I wrote a blog post about how the money the New York Rangers gave to Scott Gomez made sense at the time.

Michael Miller photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Ryan Getzlaf is more like Scott Gomez than you might think.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons now, but it did make me wonder if there is anyone else in the NHL that could soon disappoint fans with a massive contract.

It didn’t take me long to find one: Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.

Sure sure, he’s a great player, a centre, about to hit his prime, blah blah blah. People said the exact same thing about Scott Gomez before he signed his big deal.

Are there similarities between the two besides their hairlines? Is a team setting themselves up for disaster next summer? Just read below and judge for yourself.

(Note #1: I used Gomez’s numbers before he signed his deal with the Rangers back in 2007, since this article is about people who are about to sign big deals, not what they do after they sign massive cap-crushing deals).

(Note #2: Obviously, this could all change depending on what happens with the new CBA between the owners and the NHLPA. I decided to use this current model until a new one is agreed upon).

Doesn’t score

Everyone knows about Scott Gomez’s goal-scoring slump last season. A full calendar year without a goal. It’s pretty shameful.

But in all actuality, he’s never been a goal scorer.

In seven NHL seasons, here are his yearly goal totals: 19, 14, 10, 13, 14, 33 and 13. That’s an average of 16.57 goals a season.

Here are Getzlaf’s yearly goal total: 14, 25, 24, 25, 19, 19 and 11. That averages out to 19.57.

Now, Gomez’s are skewed a little because of that one good season where he scored 33 goals. But it’s also fair to note that Getzlaf, generally regarded as a better hockey player, has never had a 30-goal season, although he did hit the 20-goal mark three times (but not once in the last three years).

So whoever signs Getzlaf shouldn’t expect him to ring up a lot of goals. Don’t be disappointed when he averages 17 goals the first few years of his contract.

Playmaker

Some might say the assists is where both these guys excel.

Gomez’s assists in those seven seasons beforehis big deal: 51, 49, 38, 42, 56, 51, and 47. Pretty consistent, right? That averages out to 47.71 assists a season.

Getzlaf’s assists these last seven seasons: 25, 33, 58, 66, 50, 57 and 46. Not as consistent, right? But the average is 47.57.

That’s pretty close to bang on. Getzlaf has probably had the advantage, since he has Corey Perry to give the puck to, while Gomez had Brian Gionta and whoever happened to be on the ice with them at the time.

If you compare the first seven years of their career, Getzlaf has averaged about three points more per season than Gomez did. That’s it. That’s actually not a huge difference.

Playoff numbers are pretty good

Scott Gomez’s had some pretty good playoff years with the Devils. His last three playoff seasons with them looked like this:

  • 2004: Five games, six points (which led the team).
  • 2005: Lockout.
  • 2006: Nine games, nine points (his five goals were second on the team).
  • 2007: 11 games, 14 points (led the team, and his 10 assists were sixth in the playoffs that year).

How does Getzlaf stack up?

  • 2008: Six games, five points (which led the team)
  • 2009: 13 games, 18 points (led the team in assists and points)
  • 2010: Missed playoffs
  • 2011: Six games, six points
  • 2012: Missed playoffs

Not sure if you did the math yet, but they posted identical numbers: 29 points in 25 games (for the record, Gomez had nine goals, 20 assists, while Getzlaf had eight goals, 21 assists).

That’s more than a point-per-game. Gomez’s 1.16 points-per-game average was third overall during that time period of all players who had played at least 20 playoff games. Getzlaf’s 1.16 points-per-game average is fourth overall during that time period of all players who had played at least 20 playoff games.

So we know they both find another gear when it hits the postseason. GMs like that. They’ll overpay for it.

Weak free agent class both years for forwards

When Gomez signed, it was him, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. They were seen as the big guns. There were also other good players: Michael Nylander, Ryan Smyth, Paul Kariya, Todd Bertuzzi, Robert Lang, Radek Bonk, Owen Nolan and Brendan Shanahan amongst others, but none of them were seen as major impact players.

JamesTeterenko photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Scott Gomez looks like he is being weighed down by a massive contract.

So who is with Getzlaf next year? There’s Corey Perry and Jarome Iginla. Then you have a bunch of second-tier guys, led by Alexander Semin, Patrick Elias, Mike Ribeiro, Andy McDonald, Jaromir Jagr, Joffrey Lupul, Nathan Horton, Travis Zajac, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder. Again, some nice complimentary players, but would you give any of them a massive contract, first-line minutes and still expect to be a contender for a cup? Probably not.

And there’s still a year left for teams to sign their guys before they even hit free agency. So expect that list to be reduced by quite a bit.

When you look at major-impact free agents next year, there’s three options. One of those is Getzlaf. He’s going to cash in big.

Won a cup early in his career

Gomez won it in his rookie season. Getzlaf won it as a sophomore, but it was his first full season (he played only 57 games the season before).

Remember what general managers always say? Playoff experience counts. It leads to more money for players.

Same age

Gomez was 27 years old when he became a free agent. Getzlaf will just turn 28 when he hits the open market.

That means a lot of people will believe Getzlaf is entering his prime, just like they did with Gomez. They’ll expect at least five great years from Getzlaf.

Due for a pay raise

Gomez had a cap hit of $5 million a season the year before we signed the big deal. Knowing what he know about his play back then, he was due for a raise.

Getzlaf has a cap hit of $5.325 million. Depending on what happens with the lockout, Getzlaf will probably sign for big money. There’s a chance he signs a cap-friendly deal, but those may be on the way out. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Getzlaf signs a massive contract where he gets $7 million a year, just like Gomez did five years ago.

Conclusion

There are obviously some differences. Getzlaf checks more than Gomez ever did. Gomez played in a defensive era before the new rules thanks to the lockout seven years ago. Gomez managed to stay healthy during his first seven years whereas Getzlaf has battled injuries. Gomez was much better in the faceoff dot than Getzlaf is.

But the simalarities are amazing. The assists per year is almost bang-on. Points in their last three playoff seasons are identical. They don’t score. They’ve won a Cup early in their careers.

When you look at it, someone is going to sign Getzlaf for a lot of money (if he doesn’t re-sign with Anaheim). Next summer, people will be saying it’s a good deal for an elite playmaker and it will help fill a need for whatever team signs him. Three years afterwards, he’ll be seen as an overpaid bum.

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. And someone is bound to do just that in about 10 months time.

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33 NHL thoughts

I tried this once before, and I liked it way it turned out. I have a lot of different thoughts about the NHL, and this is a chance to get all of them out in one quick column.

Mark Canter photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Why would Chris Phillips want to stay in Ottawa?

So once again, here are my 33 NHL thoughts for the week.

1. There’s been rumours that Chris Neil may wind up in Montreal. That’s not a good fit though. The Habs play a fast speedy game. Taking one allegedly “tough” player and putting him in that system wouldn’t scare teams like the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers. If anything, it weakens Montreal’s style, since Neil is neither fast nor speedy.

2. Sens defenceman Chris Phillips wants to stay in Ottawa and be part of the rebuild. Isn’t this just like Tomas Kaberle? For years, some in the media have thought Kaberle just didn’t care to win, and wanted to stay on a losing team instead of accepting a trade elsewhere. Now Phillips is saying the same thing.

3. Just noticed that James Wisniewski’s stick is half white. I wonder if that gives him an advantage when shooting as goalies may not see it winding up as quickly as normal sticks. Also, would it give an advantage to Wisniewski’s shot blocking?

4. I’ve been really impressed with Benoit Pouliot this year. He’s probably the only Habs player that hasn’t played a bad game. He plays well, no matter what his linemates. He forechecks well, plays strong in the defensive zone, and makes plays. While he may not score in every game, he gives it his all, and that’s all you can ask of him.

5. Not understanding the love for Ryan Kesler for the Hart trophy. He’s not even one of the top two choices on the Canucks, much less one of the top three in the league. Yet there are plenty of stories being written about him having a shot at the trophy.

6. If I had a vote, my pick for the Hart would be Steven Stamkos. My second choice would be Tim Thomas (he doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done when it comes to the Hart voting). Third is Daniel Sedin.

Bridget Samuels photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Grabner should win the Calder trophy.

7. While everyone has been talking about Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner for the Calder trophy, I think Rangers rookie Derek Stepan is a dark horse choice to be nominated.

8. That being said, Grabner is my call to win the Calder. He’s a plus-11 on a horrific Islanders team, has three shorthanded goals, leads all rookies with 25 goals and has only six penalty minutes. And he gets about three minutes less of ice time per game than most other rookies.

9. Would love to see a rematch in the playoffs with the Bruins-Flyers. A hard-hitting series with the Bruins looking for revenge for last year’s playoffs, when they lost a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers.

10. What has happened to Jonas Gustavsson? He went from being the Monster, to #3 in the Leafs organization. He was supposed to be a stud goalie, but he’s quickly turned into a dud.

11. Chicago’s penalty kill is going to give them trouble in the playoffs, if they make it in. They’re 27th in the league om the PK. In the playoffs, when special teams matter, that’s going to give them trouble.

12. Craig Anderson in Ottawa is not a good thing. Sure, he looked good against the Leafs, but that’s not really telling anything, since the Leafs have traded more talent away in the past two weeks then the Sens have completely. But it would be a mistake if Ottawa GM Bryan Murray signed Anderson. The Sens should have learned from the Pascal Leclaire fiasco: do not go after goalies who have only had one great year. You’ll be disappointed.

13. By the way, shouldn’t the new Ottawa GM be making these decisions? Murray will be gone this summer, so why saddle the new GM with Anderson?

14. Congrats to Dave and Holly. Two of my good friends got married a couple of weeks ago. Dave reads this site regularly, and is a big Habs fan. Even though we don’t agree on everything, he’s pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the NHL. And Holly is also a huge Habs fan, and a pretty solid defenceman on our co-ed team to boot. Congrats again guys!

15. Marc Savard’s injury is the only reason the Bruins could trade for Tomas Kaberle. That cap space saved from him being on the injured reserve cleared the way for the Bruins to make a big move.

Bridget Samuels photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado overpaid for Erik Johnson.

16. Colorado overpaid for Erik Johnson. Kevin Shattenkirk is probably not too far behind Johnson in development, and Chris Stewart is a dynamite young forward who was tearing up the league before injuring his hand earlier this year. Bad move on Colorado’s part.

17. Not sure why Colorado would want Brian Elliott. The guy hasn’t proven to win, yet they’re hoping he can bring them to the playoffs? Colorado has made some bad moves lately.

18. The trade deadline will be dead this year. With so many teams already making their deals, there won’t be a lot of dynamite deals left. Take Montreal, for instance. They have already made their moves to shore up their defence, first getting Wisniewski, and then Paul Mara. Unless they decide to trade for more offence, there won’t be any more major deals coming from them. 

19. Less and less no trade clauses should be coming in the next few years. Teams have found it extremely difficult to get rid of players they don’t want because of no trade clauses. Kaberle, Phillips, Gonchar, etc. All tough to move if they won’t waive their clauses.

20. Something that would be nice to include in the next CBA: a chance for teams to pay for salaries of traded players. For example, Wade Redden. If the Rangers could trade him, and agree to pay half his contract, both teams are happy. The Rangers would save $3 million in cap space each year, while the team trading for him would only accept $3 million in cap space. It would also do away with a lot of drama that comes with players and whether or not teams could afford them. It could make way for more trades, as teams near the cap could make more deals.

21. Joe Thornton is getting old, and look for this season to be a sign of things to come. He’s having an off year, and I don’t think he can get 100 points again. He’s 31, about to become 32 years old. You know how many players had 100 point seasons at the age of 32 or over? Only 10 (Gretzky, Esposito, Howe, Dionne, Jagr, Francis, Bucyk, Ratelle, Sakic and Alfredsson).  I don’t think Thornton will join them. The Sharks should probably trade him before his value dips too much.

22. If the NBA and the NFL don’t have seasons next year (or delayed ones), the NHL is in a great spot to capture new fans. Baseball had trouble getting fans back after the cancelled World Series in 1994, and hockey was only able to come back so quickly thanks to the new rules. If either the NBA or NFL are out for a while, then hockey will be one of the only sports to watch, once the World Series is over.

23. Everyone’s been blasting Mario Lemieux recently, and I think it’s well deserved. It’s crazy that he comes out, when his team leads the league in fighting and penalties, and talks about how bad the Islanders were during the brawl (and that’s not even including the fact Matt Cooke is the dirtiest player in the game). But the worst is the end of his statement, when he threatened to take his ball and go home. Look Mario, the league survived fine without you for years, and if you don’t want to be a part of it, then leave.

Connormah photo, via Wikimedia Commons

The problem with Ovechkin's scoring is simple: he's not as dirty.

24. The problem with Alex Ovechkin this season is simple. Last year, he was one of the dirtiest players in the game. This year, he’s changed his style so he’s stopped injuring people. That means he’s not as aggressive, and it’s showing. But, it’s a lot better he play this way than his reckless style that he used to do.

25. Even though the Penguins keep winning without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, they won’t get far in the playoffs with a top superstar. Every team needs a player that is required to come through when it counts. Pittsburgh doesn’t have that right now, and would be lucky to win a round with the squad they have.

26. Sens fans need to be patient with a rebuild. Look at the Oilers now. Despite young top level talent from good draft picks thanks to bad seasons, they’re still one of the worst teams in the league. It’s the same with Chicago, Pittsburgh, Tampa, etc. When you’re rebuilding a team, you need quite a few years to turn things around.

27. Anaheim has shown this season what can happen when you overwork your #1 goalie. Jonas Hiller needed to take time off for fatigue, and the Ducks have suffered since. Montreal and Buffalo are a couple of teams that should pay attention to that.

28. My picks to miss the playoffs in the West out of the logjam: Nashville, Calgary and Dallas. Nashville because they don’t have that top level talent at forward to carry the team on his back, Calgary because their players will have to come back to normal sooner or later, and Dallas because of the fact Brad Richards is out for a bit with a concussion. Crosby has shown that there’s no such thing as a mild concussion.

29. In the east, I don’t really see anyone catching Carolina. The Rangers would be my only guess as to who has a chance to miss the playoffs, but as long as Marian Gaborik stays healthy, they should be okay. (Note, I wrote that line hours before Gaborik received a concussion in the Rangers game yesterday, but thought I should keep it in).

30. It still amazes me at how good Detroit is. They’re the highest scoring team in the league right now (per game average). And that’s with a lot of injuries to a lot of key guys. It’s crazy how good that team is, from top to bottom.

31. At the same time, Montreal needs more scoring help. They’re 25th in the league in goals for per game, and 28th in shooting percentage. Sure, injuries to guys like Andrei Markov and Mike Cammalleri hurt, but every team deals with injuries, so that can’t be used as an excuse. It’ll be hard for them to sneak up on teams in the playoffs this season and create upsets. Teams will be ready for them.

32. Since the all-star break, no team has scored more goals than the New York Islanders. Once they get Mark Streit back next season to help man their powerplay, the team should be playoff-contenders, especially since their young guys will have more experience. They still need a top goalie, but teams have done more with less.

33. Is there a curse of the Kraft Hockeyville? Since having a competition where an NHL exhibition game would be played at a community arena in a small town, teams participating haven’t had a lot of success. If the Sens and the Sabres miss the playoffs (both are out of a playoff spot right now), that means only three of 10 teams participating in Kraft Hockeyville made the playoffs in the season they participated in.

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Anaheim Ducks preview

Overview: The Anaheim Ducks are looking to make it back to the playoffs after a disappointing turn of events the past couple of years.

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, the Ducks have won only one playoff series, and missed the playoffs next season. Their older players are retiring, meaning the team needs to lean on a younger group to be their leaders.

I think this is the year those guys start moving forward, and start forging their own legacy.

Best offseason move: Signing Bobby Ryan to a long-term deal. A lot of people are high on this Ryan kid, with good reason. He was a nominee for the Calder trophy two seasons ago. He improved on his rookie season the following year (more difficult than you think). So signing him to a long-term deal (five years) for a reasonable salary cap hit ($5.1 million a year).

Worst offseason move: Not improving their defence. It’s hard to replace soon to be hall of famer Scott Niedermayer, who retired this past year. Right now, they have Lubomir Visnovsky, and five other guys who don’t do much. Sure, Andy Sutton might be able to knock guys down, but he’s also caught out of position often while trying to hit guys. The rest of the defence are made up of guys who would be fifth and sixth defencemen on most other teams.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Jonas Hiller for the Vezina.

Pool pick: Teemu Selanne. He may fly under the radar for some people, as he had only 48 points. But he only played 54 games because of various fluke injuries. He’s generally a point-per-game player, and can finish with about 75 or 80 points this year. Who to stay away from: Saku Koivu. His numbers keep declining, and he’s not getting top line minutes like he did when he was in Montreal. He’ll probably get about 45 points this year.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Anaheim Ducks leaders?

Best hall of fame choice: Teemu Selanne. He’s pretty much done it all. Scored 50 goals three different times (including 76 as a rookie). Has a career total of more than 600 goals, to go along with 1,260 points. Won the Calder trophy. Won the Rocket Richard trophy. Also led the league in goals on two other occasions. Won a Stanley Cup. All-time points leader in the Olympics. And was once voted as Finland’s sexiest man.

Blog to follow: Anaheim Calling

My Prediction: Second in the Pacific, fifth in the West

Famous celebrity from that city: Moon Bloodgood

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Leafs win two big trades

The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t waiting for the trade deadline. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=dion+phaneuf&iid=7709333″ src=”0/3/d/2/Calgary_Flames_v_761d.jpg?adImageId=9737526&imageId=7709333″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]

While many of the teams in contention for the Stanley Cup are getting ready to pull the trigger on major trades, the Leafs beat them to the punch. They addressed several of their needs, and landed two major players.

The first deal saw the Leafs get Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie. In return, the Calgary Flames get Matt Stajan, Ian White, Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hagman.

This is a deal that happens to benefit both teams. The Leafs get a potential franchise defenceman, and the Flames get secondary scoring help. Stajan has 16 goals this year, and Hagman has 20 (and has also scored 20 or more goals for the last three years).

The second deal saw the Leafs send Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake for J.S. Giguere from the Anaheim Ducks. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=giguere&iid=7407600″ src=”b/4/2/f/Anaheim_Ducks_v_9ae3.jpg?adImageId=9737588&imageId=7407600″ width=”234″ height=”336″ /]

This was another good deal for Toronto. They give up on a goalie making $4 million a year that is so bad he lost the starting job to a 25-year-old rookie with a bad heart, and a forward that has 10 goals this year and making $4 million a year.

So in the end, the Leafs ended up with the best player in each trade.

As well, they shed about $15 million in salary total, and got $13.25 million back.

They now have some extra holes on their roster, which will be filled with young players next season, such as Nazem Kadri. They have a couple of extra defencemen now, but Mike Van Ryn and Garnet Exelby are free agents this summer. So is Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Wayne Primeau and John Mitchell. They’ll have plenty of cap space to go after big free agents, such as Ilya Kovalchuk or Patrick Marleau.

In the end, the Leafs won big time today. And they’re not even in the race for a playoff spot. Wonder what the general managers of those teams will be doing in the next few weeks.

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Possible trades for the Habs?

Sure, we’re two months away from the NHL trade deadline, but because of the Olympic break, there’s only 17 games until then (and actually only one after the break). [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=montreal+canadiens&iid=7464941″ src=”3/1/5/3/Montreal_Canadiens_v_6ea0.jpg?adImageId=8927845&imageId=7464941″ width=”234″ height=”155″ /]

So really, the Habs need to spend this next month looking at its roster and deciding what they want to do.

The biggest need is obvious: More scoring help.

So I figured I would help out Bob Gainey (we all know he needs it), and show him what he could get before the March 3 deadline.

To keep this post semi-short, I decided to use teams that are struggling and may not make the playoffs.

To make these trades doable, I figured I would focus on guys who were free agents at the end of the year, unless there were already Montreal trade rumours involved with certain players. 

And these trades hinge on the fact Montreal would be contenders for a playoff spot. If they fall way out of the race, they’ll be sellers more than buyers.

Let’s start off with the west.

Edmonton: With the Oilers free-falling, they may be looking at some trades to a) shake things up, b) get rid of cap space and c) get some help for next year. I’ve read they may be wanting to get rid of Sheldon Souray’s contract, but the Habs won’t want, or be able to afford, his $5.4 million a year salary. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=mike+comrie&iid=6722533″ src=”b/6/7/5/Calgary_Flames_v_ece5.jpg?adImageId=8927898&imageId=6722533″ width=”234″ height=”193″ /]

More likely to be traded is Fernando Pisani. He’s been out since Nov. 11 with ulcerative colitis. But he’s not exactly what the Habs need either.

The best bet for the Habs would be Mike Comrie. He’s a free agent next summer and his salary is only $1.25 million, so the Habs would only need to pay a portion of that. Comrie can chip in with some extra offence (he gets a point about every second game: not great, but better than Sergei Kostitsyn). Comrie would probably only cost a draft pick.

Anaheim: The Ducks have a few guys who they might be willing to part with, considering the decline in the team’s game this year. Unrestricted free agents include Scott Niedermeyer, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. I doubt Montreal will trade for Koivu, since they let him walk last season. Niedermeyer is not what they need, and he makes too much money. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=teemu+selanne&iid=7123328″ src=”5/6/7/6/Calgary_Flames_v_f7c1.jpg?adImageId=8927917&imageId=7123328″ width=”234″ height=”160″ /]

So that leaves Selanne. Making $2,625,000 this year, Selanne could retire at the end of the season. The Ducks would be looking for youth, and I think they would need some defence if they trade Niedermeyer (and since they also traded Pronger last summer). Montreal has some extra defencemen now, and P.K. Subban will probably make the team next year.

So how about either Ryan O’Byrne or Josh Georges and a draft pick for Selanne. Montreal’s defence is still Hall Gill, Andrei Markov, Roman Hamrlik, Jaroslav Spacek, Paul Mara, Marc-Andre Bergeron and either O’Byrne or Georges (which ever one isn’t a part of this trade). That’s seven good defencemen, and with Mara and Bergeron free agents this summer, leaves room for a young guy next year.

The problem with this trade is that it may not be enough, especially if you have other teams also making a push for Selanne (which they probably will). So the Habs may need to add an extra prospect to the mix, depending of what the draft pick they would give.

St. Louis: With Chris Mason being a free agent next year, the Blues might be interested in trading for Jaroslav Halak. The problem is the Blues don’t have a lot to offer the Habs. They won’t be trading their young players, and their veterans make too much money (Paul Kariya, for example, makes $6 million a year).

I can’t see there being any deal made between the two teams, unless St. Louis is willing to give up someone like TJ Oshie or David Backes for Halak (and I don’t think they would be willing to).

Toronto: The Leafs are in a tough situation for the Habs to be able to make a trade with. They have 11 unrestricted free agents this summer, but they’re mostly third or fourth liners. The Habs have enough of those type of players, so I can’t see much of a deal getting done.

As an aside, look for the Leafs to sign a major player this summer. They only have about $35 million in cap space for next year, so I anticipate they’ll try to make a big splash in the free agent pool.

Carolina: The rumour going around is that Carolina officials wants half of the team gone for next year, so they’ll be the easiest trading parter. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=ray+whitney&iid=7361017″ src=”6/e/b/f/Carolina_Hurricanes_v_4ca9.jpg?adImageId=8927930&imageId=7361017″ width=”234″ height=”174″ /]

Matt Cullen would be a good pickup, but I prefer Ray Whitney (I also think Erik Cole could be gotten for cheap, as he’s not having the greatest season, but he’s not a free agent in the summer). I think the Habs could make a good deal for Whitney.

I would like to see the Habs offer Andrei Kostitsyn for Whitney. The Habs would then clear up some cap space for next year (they have $45 million already tied up next season, and at least Price, Halak, D’Agostini, Lapierre, Pouliot, Sergei Kostitsyn and Plekanec to sign). I don’t think Kostitsyn will ever live up to his billing of a 10th overall pick, and he’s too streaky a player to keep. Trading him for Whitney gives Carolina a good young player to help their team in the future, and helps Montreal by clearing cap space.

Philadelphia: I’m breaking away from the free agency rule for this one, because of the rumours of Halak to Philly for Jeff Carter. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=jeff+carter&iid=7444142″ src=”4/e/5/b/Flyers_v_Bruins_3c97.JPG?adImageId=8927943&imageId=7444142″ width=”234″ height=”162″ /]

I still think some version of this trade will happen (yes, I know the Philly GM has said he’s not trading Carter, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. How many times in the past have we heard about such and such a coach not being fired, and then he gets fired?). Ray Emery will be a free agent next summer, and that experiment has pretty much failed. I also don’t think Philly wants to keep Brian Boucher as their #1 goalie.

Philly is up against the cap, with about $47 million tied up next year, but only three defencemen signed and Boucher being the only goalie.

So the two teams should be able to swing a trade. I expect it to be Halak, Max Pacioretty and Sergei Kostitsyn for Carter. The Flyers get their #1 goalie, and two young skilled players who won’t cost a lot. The Habs get a good young leader and someone who can help offensively. It also helps the Habs because they don’t need to worry about resigning both goalies this summer.

Atlanta: Ilya Kovalchuk? Is it possible the Habs could make an offer for the 50-goal scorer? [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Ilya+Kovalchuk&iid=7391741″ src=”9/e/7/3/Boston_Bruins_v_2705.jpg?adImageId=8927950&imageId=7391741″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]

I hope so. They were in the Marian Hossa sweepstakes a couple of years back, and the still have enough young guys that a trade would be possible. For Kovalchuk, Atlanta would want at least what they received for Hossa, and probably a little but more.

To recap, Hossa and Pascal Dupuis were traded for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2008. So look for the Thrashers to be getting some quality players in a trade. Can the Habs do it? I think so. Here’s what I was envisioning:

Kovalchuk for Maxim Lapierre, Andre Kostitsyn, PK Subban and a first-rounder.

Of course, this is the kind of deal that can only happen if the Habs are in a playoff run. But Gainey needs the team to make it to at least the second round this season, because the team hasn’t done well in the playoffs since he’s been in charge.

Conclusion:

Overall, the Habs can’t make all these trades. But just say they make the Anaheim, Philly and Carolina deals.

All of a sudden, their lines look like this:

Cammalleri – Plekanec – Ray Whitney

Carter – Lapierre – Selanne

Pouliot – Gomez – Gionta

Laraque – Metropolit – Moen

Markov – Gorges

Hamrlik – Spacek

Gill – Bergeron

Price (and a backup from Hamilton)

This puts the Habs a bit over the cap space this year, but they’ve saved on some salary because of injuries earlier this season (if a player is on injured reserve for 10 games or more, the team saves the salary while that person is injured) to Markov, Gionta and a few others.

They would lose guys like Selanne, Whitney, Mara, etc. over the summer, giving them some cap space to sign Price, Plekanec and whoever else they need to sign.

And what about next season? No worries. With those trades, and a few resignings (Pouliot for $800,000, Lapierre for $900,000, Plekanec for $5 million and Price for $3 million), the Habs have 15 players on their roster, and $2.3 million in cap space, if the cap doesn’t go up. That leaves more than enough to sign some fourth line guys (or use guys from Hamilton).

See, it’s not that difficult to make trades. A couple of drafts picks and youth, and we have a potential 50-goal scorer for next season in Carter, more depth up front, and you create some room for other young guys to crack the lineup.

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2009 preview: Anaheim Ducks

This team reminds me of my fantasy hockey team.

Young at forward, old on the defence and a mix for goaltending.

They’ll be a contender this season. They have enough experience all around to be one of the top teams in the west. It just depends if they have enough experience to be a contender in the playoffs.

Story of the season: How will the defence do without the big three? The Ducks traded Chris Pronger in the offseason, and lost Francis Beauchemin to free agency. Scott Nidermayer may retire at the end of the season. That’s a lot of big minutes that need to be taken up by the rest of the players. Can they handle it?

Former Habs: Saku Koivu (sniff)

Blog to follow: Battle of California

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Pool Picks: Saku Koivu. He won’t have to worry about carrying the team on his back. He won’t have to worry about any controversy about if he knows French or not. He’s playing with his best friend. I see Koivu getting 65 points at least. Stay away from: Ryan Whitney. He’ll finish the season with about 40 points.

Award nominees: Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the Vezina

Expected Finish: Second in the Pacific, fourth in the West

Cheerleader: The Ducks have their own ice girls.

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