Ducks’ Deadline Inactivity Signals New Direction

We’re going to do what’s best, and we’re going to make every decision based on what’s best for the Anaheim Ducks to achieve their goal, and our goal is obviously to win the Stanley Cup.

Anaheim Ducks‘ general manager Bob Murray’s words on June 14th, 2016, as he introduced his newly-minted head coach Randy Carlyle. The message was clear from the get-go of the introductory press conference — Carlyle’s sole purpose was to win a Stanley Cup in the very near future. That direction may have changed, as far as the 2016-17 season is concerned.

The Ducks have struggled to produce offense outside of a handful of players all season long, and their general manager did next to nothing to address that issue at the deadline. In Murray’s view, Patrick Eaves’ addition for a conditional second round draft pick tackles that need.

There was no splashy move. No Matt Duchene/Gabriel Landeskog for Sami Vatanen/Cam Fowler/”Young defenseman X”. Understandable, to a degree — a salary cap sheet filled to the brim left Murray’s hands tied. Factor in the exorbitant asking price that Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was putting forth, and you have a deal that’s dead on the table.

Conversely, there were other deals to be made at a much lower cost. The Nashville Predators added P.A Parenteau’s $1.25 million cap hit for a sixth-round pick. Murray could have finagled a move of that nature. He did, in part, adding Eaves’ minuscule $1 million cap hit with no moved salary. The relative cost, or lack thereof, in Eaves’ addition, may have been its biggest driving force.

Deadline Silence Signifies Shift

Even so, Murray could have gotten creative to absorb a little more salary. A move to send down Jared Boll’s $900 thousand cap hit to the minors would have been a good place to start. Other GM’s have gotten creative in the past, so what stopped Murray, a former executive of the year, from flexing his managerial muscle?

The truth may be disappointing to some — Anaheim brass may have moved on from the idea that their club can win the Cup in 2016-17. Can you blame them?

The Ducks have been a model of inconsistency all season long, struggling to beat elite teams while loading up on points against weaker clubs. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have disappointed, and even Ryan Kesler has tailed off from his scorching hot start to the season.

Murray’s hesitance to part ways in future assets of any kind might seem overly prudent at face value, but above all, may reveal his lack of confidence that this core can go all the way in this particular season.

Looking Ahead

Look around the league, and you find plenty of examples of GM’s showing the utmost faith in their cores. Chuck Fletcher and Brian MacLellan, both operating under similarly closing Cup windows as Anaheim, went all in at the deadline, giving out draft picks like candy in order to bolster their rosters.

Had Murray felt the same way about his own roster, then perhaps he would have acted accordingly. He’s shown a willingness to make big moves in the past, so the thought isn’t that outlandish.

As far as the 2016-17 Ducks are concerned, however, it looks as though they’ll be playing with house money. Murray will address the logjam at defense when the expansion draft rolls around, and will probably look to re-tool parts of his roster as the summer progresses. His vocal criticisms of his superstars leave one to wonder what their future holds in the Ducks’ organization, and what this team will look like next fall. One thing is certain — this franchise has its sights set squarely on the future.