This is a weekly column that aims to be your one-stop shop for all the notable Anaheim Ducks news that occurred over the course of a given week. Rather than just regurgitate facts and figures (although, I’ll do a bit of that, too), I’ll attempt to offer insight and analysis, especially as it pertains to various subject areas like prospect development, team chemistry, and what it all means going forward. Enjoy!
The Week That Was: Anaheim Ducks News (June 24th – July 1st)
On July 1st, the NHL calendar officially flipped over into the 2012-13 season, and after securing pieces for the future in the NHL Entry Draft, the League’s 30 teams turned their focus to the here and now with the free agent frenzy of July 1st. The day that has become colloquially known as ‘UFA Day,’ but more popularly to hockey fans everywhere as ‘Christmas in July,’ always promises to be entertaining at the very least.
Some teams went on shopping sprees (although not quite like Dale Tallon did last July 1st) while other teams stayed quiet (Los Angeles thus far has only re-signed Dustin Penner, and Edmonton made their only big splash in signing controversial UFA Justin Schultz.) Meanwhile, every team has seemingly kicked the tires on star UFA’s Zach Parise and Ryan Suter as the hockey media in the twitterverse awaits the signings with breathless anticipation.
Ducks Ink D-man Sheldon Souray to 3-Year Pact
The Ducks’ biggest move of the day was inarguably signing offensive-minded defenseman Sheldon Souray to a 3-year deal worth a reported $11 million.
Said Bob Murray:
We wanted to get some experience and size back there. We wanted to be a little bit harder to play against. I thought he played very well in Dallas last year. I know the questions on Sheldon from before. Quite honestly, I talked to a few veterans on our hockey team and they definitely said go forward and get this guy if you can, so I did.
While Souray undoubtedly has size and experience, along with an absolute rocket for a shot, many Anaheim fans and pundits have voiced their displeasure in raising concerns about Souray’s age and effectiveness. Most of the controversy stems from the term of the contract. Three years for a 35-year-old player with an injury history similar to that of recently-departed Lubomir Visnovsky (for whom Souray is the presumptive replacement) – this one doesn’t exactly come out smelling like roses for Murray and the Anaheim brass.
A quick look at Souray’s numbers from last year (64 GP, 6G, 15A, +/- 11, 73 PIM) illuminates the major question mark surrounding Souray: can he still contribute offensively at the level he displayed during his starring years in Edmonton and Montreal? 2006-07 saw Souray find the back of the net 26 times, while he nearly matched that with 23 tallies in 2008-09 for Edmonton.
The last few years haven’t been kind to Souray, however. He only played in 37 games for Edmonton during the 09-10 season after suffering a concussion, and then breaking his hand in a fight. He finished the campaign with only four goals and a total of 13 points. The following year, Souray made public his desire to leave Edmonton, which resulted in a nasty, bitter divorce that saw Souray spend the entirety of his 2010-11 season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL (40 GP, 4G, 15A, 85 PIM). The question must be asked: how much does Souray have left in the tank? If the answer turns out to be ‘not much,’ then the three-year deal that Bob Murray signed him to will become an albatross sooner rather than later.
To Souray’s credit, he seems genuinely thrilled to be in Anaheim and closer to his family, who maintain residence in Southern California:
In an ideal situation, this would have been it. When this opportunity presented itself, it was really a dream come true so to speak. It worked on so many different levels that I couldn’t be happier with.
All around, this was the best fit hockey-wise and certainly the best fit on a personal level. Historically when I’ve had my kids around and I’ve been able to combine those two things, it’s made me a better hockey player and happier person. Thankfully and luckily, I’m going to have the opportunity to do that on a full-time basis over the next few years. We’re happy.
It’s important for me to get in here and start moving this ship in the right direction. I know they have a lot of great pieces there. I know they are not satisfied with where they are for sure. They have had a couple of additions already today.
Time will tell whether Souray plays an integral role in moving said ship.
Ducks Also Sign D Allen and RW Staubitz
The Ducks continued their effort to get bigger and tougher to play against by signing 6’5″ 220 lb. defenseman Bryan Allen to a three-year deal worth $10.5 million, and tough guy Brad Staubitz to a two-year deal worth $1.28 million. Allen figures to be an upgrade over Sheldon Brookbank (who signed a tw0-year deal in Chicago) as he’s a big, mobile, shutdown defenseman and was 4th in blocked shots last year, right behind Francois Beauchemin.
Staubitz is an enforcer who split last year between Minnesota and Montreal, skating in 62 games and scoring 1 goal while racking up 121 PIMs. With fan favorite George Parros taking a two-year deal in Florida, Staubitz will assume dust-up duties. At 6’1″ and 215 lbs., he’ll have a difficult time taking on the heavy weights that George Parros was able to handle, but Staubitz will definitely stick up for his teammates, and ought to be popular in the Anaheim dressing room.
It should be noted that the Ducks are far from finished this offseason. According to CapGeek, they still have a little over $23 million in cap space to play with, and are still roughly $7 million beneath the projected cap floor, though if Teemu Selanne does indeed return for another season, you can pencil in about a $4.5 million cap hit. Bob Murray has said that he doesn’t know if anything else will happen free agency-wise, but with Bobby Ryan reportedly on the move, you can bet that Anaheim will be active on the trade front, and will likely look to add a few pieces that way.
As far as predictions on whether these signings will work out, from this vantage point, Sheldon Souray at this stage in his career is, at best, a powerplay specialist and bears more potential risk than potential reward. His signing was a real head scratcher for this writer. Bryan Allen seems like a win, and it’s difficult to not like his size and willingness to sacrifice his body, while Brad Staubitz is probably a wash.
From the OC Register’s Eric Stephens on the Ducks signing 2011 1st Round Pick Rickard Rakell: