With the March 24 trade deadline quickly approaching, the Anaheim Ducks are poised to be one of the busier teams. With a handful of valuable players on expiring contracts, they stand to benefit from the rental market. The Ducks have failed to make the playoffs since 2017-18 and have since begun the long process of rebuilding and reshaping the roster to compete in the modern NHL.
During the rebuild, the Ducks have made several trades with varying degrees of significance. While there have been plenty of “hockey trades” involving depth players with limited potential and experience, management has also set themselves up to turn the corner. Here we will look at the Ducks’ trades around the week of the trade deadline since 2018.
2018 Trade Deadline (Feb. 26, 2018)
Feb. 26-Ducks trade Chris Wagner to the New York Islanders for Jason Chimera
On the eve of their final postseason appearance during this era, former general manager Bob Murray made a pair of moves that didn’t do much to move the needle. Along with signing Chris Kelly fresh off of captaining Team Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Ducks acquired the veteran Chimera in the waning moments of the trade deadline.
Chimera’s role didn’t vary much from the role held by Chris Wagner, which was essentially a depth forward with grit. The move didn’t make the Ducks better in the long or short term. Not to mention it shipped away a fan-favourite in Wagner, who had developed in the Ducks’ system as a fifth-round pick and frequented the league leaderboards in hits from year-to-year.
2019 Trade Deadline (Feb. 25, 2019)
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres for Brendan Guhle and a 2019 first-round pick (Brayden Tracey)
The Ducks decided to move on from Brandon Montour in his third NHL season. Montour burst onto the scene in 2017, playing in every playoff game in Anaheim’s run to the Western Conference Final. Shortly after the season, the Ducks sent fellow rookie prospect Shea Theodore to the Vegas Golden Knights as a sweetener for selecting Clayton Stoner in their expansion draft, thus putting their faith in Montour to continue his development. However, after a solid sophomore season, his development plateaued in his third season as the team struggled.
Montour’s departure was bittersweet, given the promising prospect coming back in the form of Brendan Guhle. Guhle has spent most of his time in the American Hockey League with sporadic trips to the NHL, including four games with the Ducks this season. The real prize of the trade was the first-round pick that turned into winger Brayden Tracey. Tracey’s development at the lower levels has been encouraging, and he recently made his NHL debut. Tracey could see more ice time down the stretch this season and has a strong chance to make the team out of camp next season.
Feb. 25-Ducks trade Michael Del Zotto to the St. Louis Blues for a 2019 sixth-round pick (Matthew Hill)
In a low-profile deal on deadline day, the Ducks sent the veteran Michael Del Zotto to the surging St. Louis Blues in exchange for an extra chance to find hidden talent towards the end of the draft. As benign a trade as this was, it was a win for both parties. Del Zotto and the Blues won the Stanley Cup, while the Ducks managed to retain an asset for a journeyman veteran in his first season with the club. Even if Matthew Hill never suits up for the Ducks, Del Zotto’s value wouldn’t have lasted beyond the 2019 season.
Feb. 25-Ducks trade Brian Gibbons to the Ottawa Senators for Patrick Sieloff
A classic “hockey trade” that swapped two veterans who were toiling in the AHL. This trade didn’t have legs as both Brian Gibbons and Patrick Sieloff have moved onto European leagues. Sieloff appeared in 33 games with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League while Gibbons appeared in 20 games for the Senators.
2020 Trade Deadline (Feb. 24, 2020)
Feb. 21-Ducks trade Ondrej Kase to the Boston Bruins for David Backes, Axel Andersson, and a 2020 first-round pick (Jacob Perreault)
The most bittersweet trade in recent history is also one of the more beneficial. The Ducks flipped fan-favorite Ondrej Kase, a fifth-round success story, for a first-round pick and a prospect. As a sweetener, the Ducks took David Backes’ contract off the Bruins’ books to give them some additional cap space.
Kase was one of the more beloved Ducks of this era. As the team declined through the years, his hustle and tenacity made him an aggressive forechecker and strong finisher, notably with his backhand. But his health was always a concern, and his services, when healthy, were better served on a contender. Still, turning a fifth-round pick into a first and a prospect is tremendous, and Jacob Perreault, much like Brayden Tracey, will factor into the Ducks becoming a competitor in the next few seasons.
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Daniel Sprong to the Washington Capitals for Christian Djoos
This was a swap of two talented but underachieving players. Daniel Sprong is still a depth forward for the Capitals, while Christian Djoos was claimed by the Detroit Red Wings when the Ducks placed him on waivers in 2021. Djoos only appeared in nine games for the Ducks, registering three points.
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Korbinian Holzer to the Nashville Predators for Matt Irwin
Another classic “hockey trade”, this move swapped two fringe NHL defensemen. Matt Irwin appeared in eight games for the Ducks in 2020 before the league shut down in March. Korbinian Holzer now plays in his home country of Germany while Irwin is in the Capitals organization.
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Devin Shore to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Sonny Milano
After acquiring Devin Shore from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Andrew Cogliano the season before, the Ducks managed to flip a bottom-six winger for one of the more talented forwards on the roster today. Sonny Milano’s high ceiling in Columbus was stunted by former head coach John Tortorella, who kept him in the doghouse. Today, Milano is thriving alongside Trevor Zegras on one of the most exciting forward lines in the NHL.
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Nick Ritchie to the Bruins for Danton Heinen
The Ducks made their second move with the Bruins in a matter of days when they reunited Kase and his linemate from Anaheim in Nick Ritchie. The 10th-overall pick in 2014, Ritchie never quite lived up to his potential, and his tendency to find the penalty box was a concerning development. Despite a complex legacy, he will be remembered for scoring the game-winning goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the 2017 Playoffs to break the Ducks’ Game 7 losing streak. Heinen appeared in 52 games for the Ducks over two seasons. He is currently playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Feb. 24-Ducks trade Derek Grant to the Philadelphia Flyers for Kyle Criscuolo and a 2020 fourth-round pick (Thimo Nickl)
In a move similar to the Del Zotto trade, it’s always beneficial for a rebuilding team to gain draft picks at the expense of depth veterans. Derek Grant has gone back-and-forth between Anaheim and a few other teams and is currently in his third tour of duty with the Ducks. This trade essentially loaned Grant to the Flyers for the remainder of the season in exchange for a low-probability pick and prospect.
A Quiet 2021 Necessitates a Busy 2022
The Ducks were in a similar position at last season’s trade deadline, except for their expiring contracts. Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson remain popular trade names as the deadline approaches, and newly-appointed general manager Pat Verbeek has stressed that these players shouldn’t walk away for free in the offseason.
A year ago, Murray was less willing to part with his veterans, a reasonable move if you consider the pandemic and he didn’t want to relocate the lives and families of his players in the middle of it. But with no term left on these deals after this season, it’s paramount for Verbeek to gain assets for these pending unrestricted free agents if it doesn’t seem that they will re-sign with Anaheim.
I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.