The 2016 NHL trade deadline is now less than one week away. For a length of time, there was no argument that the Anaheim Ducks needed to acquire more offense in order to be series contenders for the Stanley Cup this spring. However, Anaheim has experienced a drastic turnaround from the beginning of the season and now find themselves knocking on the Los Angeles Kings door for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Ducks now look like a team a little less desperate for another deal before the deadline passes on Monday, February 29th at 3:00 p.m. eastern time. Maybe Anaheim is perfectly fine with the roster they currently have and should not risk breaking up a unit that has simply been on fire recently. Still, there are people with the mindset that the Ducks are still better off acquiring another top-six forward if they want to make a serious push in the upcoming postseason.
Besides for the forward positions, Anaheim has a substantial amount of depth everywhere else. Bob Murray has more than enough NHL-caliber defensemen on his current roster and in the AHL to dangle a few out there and see what he can get in return. Many would argue that the depth at the goaltender position creates the potential for one netminder to be dealt for improvements on the offensive side of the ice. The goalie receiving the most trade-talk attention is Frederik Andersen. We all know that John Gibson is going absolutely nowhere and Andersen could be an everyday goaltender on almost any other team in the National Hockey League. Although the temptation will be present until the deadline passes, the Ducks would be making a serious mistake if they decide to trade Andersen.
Unlike every other franchise in the league, the Ducks do not have a backup goaltender. They are the only lucky organization to have two men between the pipes with everyday goaltender capabilities and qualities. Both Gibson and Andersen have been absolutely fantastic for Anaheim this season, removing all worry for Bruce Boudreau in regards to his goalie situation. If one cannot go on any given game, the Ducks can call on their other save-master and breathe easy. Goalie is the one position where you simply cannot have enough depth within your organization. It would be silly to trade away a valuable asset such as Andersen when your team can make a series run at winning the Stanley Cup.
For Murray and the Ducks, it would be quite the challenge determining whether Gibson or Andersen has been the better goaltender for the team. Both men have a save-percentage of .917; and although Gibson has let in fewer goals, Andersen has faced 197 more shots. Andersen has also seen action in eight more games than Gibson has this season.
There is no doubt in my mind that Gibson is the goalie of the future for Anaheim. He is only 22-years-old and is signed to an extremely friendly contract of $2.3M a year until the summer of 2020. Andersen is 26 and is a restricted free agent this summer. There is a good chance the Ducks will not be able to re-sign Andersen because he could score a higher paying contract elsewhere. This does not mean Murray needs to trade him now. It would be a more intelligent move for Anaheim to wait to deal Andersen’s right to another organization before the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. This way they still do not allow the netminder to walk away with receiving nothing in return.
As the deadline approaches, it appears that the Ducks will be looking for a rental player if anybody. I think that we can all agree that there is no way Anaheim sends Andersen elsewhere for a player they will only have until the summer time. It is even debatable whether they would trade away an expendable blue-liner for a rental forward. A deal like that would most likely involve draft picks and prospects.
Anyways, trading away Andersen before the gong sounds on February 29th simply is not a move the Ducks need to make considering the present circumstances. They are a better team having at the ready to provide Gibson rest whenever necessary. Not only do I think it would be a poor decision, I truly do not believe the Ducks seriously considering trading Andersen right now. However, we won’t know for sure until the deadline passes.