The Anaheim Ducks got an early jump on the trade deadline, making 3 trades that I believe improved the team. How much of an improvement is debatable, but I do believe that the Ducks tonight are better than they were this morning. And Bob Murray has put the Ducks in a position to make a big splash before the deadline hits tomorrow at noon Pacific.
In the 1st move of the day made by the Ducks sent Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals for a 4th round draft pick (I think the same pick that the Ducks sent to the Caps in the Perreault trade at the start of the season). Of the 3 deals the Ducks made today, this is the one that I like the least, but overall I am okay with it. First of all, trading Penner frees up both cap room and a spot on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry. This spot can be filled from within by the likes of Palmieri or Silfverberg or Etem, or the Ducks can make another trade and bring back a scoring winger (Vanek, Moulson, Gaborik, etc.). While the 2nd option is in no way a guarantee, the 1st option is a strong one for the Ducks. All 3 of those young players compete and skate harder than Penner and I think could do just as well, if not better, than Penner if they were consistently on the top line. I'll miss Penner, but losing him isn't something I will lose sleep over. My biggest issue with the trade is that the Ducks only got a 4th round pick back, but with what the Ducks did in their final trade of the day left me feeling much better about getting the 4th rounder back from Washington.
The 2nd move the Ducks made was trading goalie Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers for a 5th round pick this season and a 3rd round pick next season. Last season, Fasth burst onto the scene and was a revelation in Anaheim. This year he has battled injuries and only played in 5 games, and hasn't played in a game for the Ducks since November. He has played some games down in Norfolk on a conditioning assignment, but he didn't have a ton of value. So why trade him? Because of the strong play of Frederik Andersen. He has been even better than Fasth last season, and I believe that he has looked much more consistent than Fasth ever did. As a rookie his numbers are absurd, and has lost only 3 games in regulation all season. Trading Fasth lets Andersen stay in the NHL, where he belongs and gives the Ducks 2 draft picks which they can either use to try and turn into an NHL player in the future, or use them in a future trade tonight or tomorrow morning. Trading Fasth also frees up more cap space for the Ducks, something that they already had plenty of, but for a team to be 1st overall in the NHL and to have over $10 million in cap space (according to capgeek.com) on the eve of the trade deadline is a fantastic position to be in. In terms of cap dollars, the Ducks can literally trade for any player in the league.
In the final move of the day (so far), the Ducks traded the 4th round pick they got from the Caps to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Stephane Robidas. So the Ducks basically traded Dustin Penner for Stephane Robidas, and that's a trade that I am very happy with. Of the 3 deals the Ducks made today, this is far and away my favorite. For a long time now I've been thinking that the Ducks need to upgrade their defense going into the playoffs, and Robidas is just perfect for that roll. The only downside is that he is currently injured, but if he can return to form in a couple of weeks, this will be a great deal. Robidas is a hard hitting defenseman with a right handed shot, 2 things that the Ducks don't have enough of on their roster, plus he is a playoff veteran. He can either solidify the 3rd pairing with Fistric/Sbisa/Allen, or if he plays well enough, he can force his way into the top 4, likely supplanting one of Lovejoy or Lindholm. Both of those 2 have been great for the Ducks all season, but Robidas is an all around more physical, meaner presence on the blueline, something that could be very important for the Ducks as the playoffs get underway. He will also improve the Ducks penalty kill. While it has seen significant improvement since the start of the season, a better pk is always a good thing. The 4th round pick the Ducks gave up is a conditional pick, if the Ducks reach the Western Conference Finals and Robidas plays in half of the Ducks playoffs games, then that pick becomes a 3rd rounder, and that's a condition that I am very happy with. If the Ducks reach the 3rd round and Robidas plays in over half the games, this will be an excellent trade for the Ducks and well worth a 3rd round pick.
And those are the 3 deals that the Ducks have made on the trade deadline eve. There are still over 12 hours until the deadline officially passes, plenty of time for the Ducks to make another move. They have the assets to make a big deal (young players, draft picks, and cap space), but the real question is, is the price worth it? If the Ducks go after a rental player, is it worth a 1st rounder and good prospect? If they go for a player under contract (Kesler), is it worth giving up an elite prospect (Etem, Vatanen) and a 1st round pick and a roster player? If the player puts the Ducks over the top, then any trade is worth it. But if the trade doesn't put the Ducks over the top, then it's hard to say. Personally, I prefer the Ducks to be careful. And being careful over the last several years has allowed them to be in this position, so if the Ducks were ever going to go for a big player at the deadline, the time is now.