The Anaheim Ducks made a flurry of moves at the trade deadline that elevated them to legitimate contenders in the eyes of many observers. Since the deadline, they’ve won six out of ten games, which doesn’t scream “home run” for general manager Bob Murray’s harvest.
Digging deeper though, there’s reason to believe that Murray substantially improved his team. Since the March 2nd deadline, Anaheim is second only behind Los Angeles in possession. Granted it’s a small sample size, but a nearly five percent improvement in score-adjusted Corsi raises an eyebrow.
Have tactical changes led to this improvement? Or is it simply a lucky run of weaker opposition? Let’s take a look at a each new Duck acquired at the deadline and evaluate:
Wisniewski has been, in a word, disappointing in his second California go-around. It’s to be expected for a player on a new team after being injured to take some time to adjust, especially as a defenseman (arguably the toughest position). The problem is, he hasn’t even been close to good.
With only two assists and eleven shots in seven games, Wisniewski hasn’t had the kind of impact that many expected. The Ducks power play still looks anemic. Passing lanes have opened up a tad with penalty killers respecting his shot, but the “Wiz Effect” hasn’t been felt quite yet.
The most low-key addition by Murray, perhaps the most important thing to note about Fleischmann is that it only took Dany Heatley and a draft pick to get him. He’s most recently slotted in on a line with Jiri Sekac and Rickard Rakell, and hasn’t looked all that out of place
Three points in sporadic minutes should be seen as a plus for the veteran. Considering that he replaced a non-factor in Heatley, any positive contribution that he brings is a boon for Bruce Boudreau. He’s marginally solidified Anaheim’s bottom-six, so let’s say it’s a win for Murray.
Despres may have been the best pickup on deadline day. Ben Lovejoy was a loved member of the Ducks’ locker room, but no one on this Earth would argue that he’s anywhere near the player the Despres is and will be. That disparity in talent has played out on the ice.
With four assists, Despres has the second most points of the newer Ducks. He’s been an overwhelmingly positive possession player, and he’s shown that he can be a physical presence on the ice while handling himself with ease thanks to his outstanding hockey sense.
When Sekac is on the ice, the Ducks are a better team, plain and simple. His possession stats, while outrageously impressive, almost sell short the true talent that the 22-year old Czech winger possesses. A slick combination of core strength and uncanny feel for the game has propelled Sekac into one of Anaheim’s most reliable forwards.
In 12 games in a Ducks uniform, Sekac has notched five points, including one goal at the Honda Center against his former club the Montreal Canadiens. Of all of Murray’s deadline acquisitions, it’s hard to argue that any have made as dramatic an impact offensively as Sekac has. And to think it only took Devante Smith-Pelly’s “grit” to acquire him…
Deadline Improved Ducks
Anaheim has been one of the league’s best teams since the trade deadline. Nearly everything that Bob Murray has touched has turned into gold, and the only thing that could make this deadline even more successful is if it ultimately translates into a Stanley Cup.