The NHL Trade Deadline came and went, and most of the deals made today were not gross overpayments, and the Ducks followed that pattern. And because the Ducks weren't willing to overpay, the trade deadline passed rather quietly in Anaheim. One minor league deal was made, but other than that, the Ducks stood pat and feel like they already have a team that is good enough to compete for a Cup.
To begin with, the Ducks made a minor move today sending defenseman Alex Grant to the Ottawa Senators for forward Andre Petersson. Grant has played in 2 games for the Ducks this season and scored 2 goals on 2 shots. He only saw time because of the absurd amount of injuries the Ducks had on defense at the time. With the play of Lindholm in Anaheim and Vatanen in Norfolk, Grant, an offensive defenseman, clearly did not have much of a future with the Ducks. I don't know much about Petersson, only what hockeysfuture.com tells me. He's got a lot of offensive potential, but struggles with consistency and isn't great defensively. He doesn't sound like he has much future in Anaheim, but hopefully he can help bring more offense to Norfolk.
When the Ducks traded Penner yesterday, a lot of people assumed that it was to make room for a bigger trade today, and as we all know, that trade never happened. Since the trade deadline passed some Ducks fans have been upset over Penner not being replaced. I'm okay with Penner not being replaced by someone from outside the organization. The Ducks have plenty of young wingers who can take his spot. I went over many of them at the start of the season, so I'll just mention a few now. The current favorite (and who is in the spot at the start of the game tonight against the Canadiens) is Kyle Palmieri. He's got a great shot and with Getzlaf and Perry setting him up he is going to get his chances. If he can start putting them in the net he is going to fit nicely on the top line. If he doesn't work, the Ducks can turn to Patrick Maroon. His size and skill set makes him the most similar to the departed Penner, so if the Ducks want someone who can play a similar game, but more physical, Maroon is their man. After those 2, there are 2 more players who I think could work there. The 1st is Jakob Silfverberg. He has seen a little bit of time on that line and hasn't looked bad, but he has not been consistent since he returned from injury. Maybe time on the top line with the Ducks 2 best offensive talents will help him find his game. He loves to shoot and can create rebounds for Getzlaf and Perry. The final player who may end up here isn't actually on the Ducks roster right now, it's forward Emerson Etem, currently playing down in Norfolk. He's good enough to be on the Ducks roster, but because of their depth (which is why the Ducks were fine without getting a forward for Penner), he has been stuck in Norfolk for most of the season. His speed is amazing and I think could cause a lot of havoc with Getzlaf's and Perry's skills. I think any of these 4 players can take Penner's spot and at least equal, if not exceed his production, and bring other intangibles that Penner doesn't have: Palmieri's shot, Maroon's physcicality, Silfverberg's willingness to shoot, and Etem's speed.
On defense, things are a little more murky. They currently have 7 healthy defenseman: Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Hampus Lindholm, Francois Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Bryan Allen, and Luca Sbisa. When he gets healthy, the newest Duck Stephane Robidas will join this defensive core. And, as mentioned previously, Vatanen is in the AHL and is good enough to be on the team (if not for the absurd play of Lindholm this season, he would be). That gives the Ducks 8 healthy defenseman, plus 1 in the minors who can step in at a moments notice. This huge amount of defensive depth is a great problem to have. Robidas is out for at least another week or 2, so for now, the Ducks will keep rotating between Fistric, Allen, and Sbisa on the 3rd pairing (though the Ducks have Sbisa at forward tonight because Perreault is injured and Selanne is sick). It gets a little trickier when Robidas gets healthy. I have to figure that, as long as he can get healthy and play like he is capable of, he is going to force his way into the lineup most every night. That leaves 3 players to rotate between 3 spots. I have to think that if any of the Ducks top 5 (including Robidas in this number) ever have a night where they don't feel 100%, they will get it off with no questions asked and another defender will be able to easily step into their spot. This defensive depth will probably be key going into the playoffs where injuries will happen. The Ducks are already missing Sheldon Souray, and almost every other defenseman on the roster has missed at least a few games to injury this season. So having 8 defenseman may seem like a little much, but if the Ducks run into injury issues on the blueline, they have bodies they can use.
After a busy deadline eve, the Ducks were quiet on the day of the deadline itself, and for the 1st overall team in the NHL, that's just fine. The Ducks were in a position of strength, they could have made a trade (and by all accounts were trying to get Kesler), but in the end chose not too. In the end, the Ducks chose to improve their defense and let some of their younger players step up in offense. The Ducks have 20 games left in the season (19 after tonight), and then the playoffs begin. And that's when it will become clear if a quiet deadline was the correct decision for the Ducks.
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