There’s a notion in the NHL that to get, you must give, and even sometimes give a lot more than what you’re getting. This season’s trade deadline saw the Anaheim Ducks get quite a bit, while giving insanely little.
Only a week ago the Ducks had Rene Bourque’s two goals as a Duck, William Karlsson, Ben Lovejoy, the shell of Dany Heatley’s shell, and Devante Smith-Pelly in their organizational depth chart. By Monday afternoon, they had turned all that into James Wisniewski, Jiri Sekac, Tomas Flesichmann, and Simon Despres. Talk about an upgrade.
James Wisniewski For Spare Parts
Perhaps the most impactful trade that Bob Murray has made is bringing back former Duck James Wisniewski, who is one of the league’s better offensive defensemen. With a booming shot from the point that penalty killers have to respect, Wisniewski will undoubtedly help an Anaheim power play that hasn’t been all that impressive at times.
Even if Wisniewski only marginally helps the Ducks, the price at which Murray acquired him was incredibly low for a solid NHL defenseman. Anaheim only had to give away Rene Bourque, William Karlsson, and a second round pick in this year’s draft.
As crazy as it may sound, the second-rounder that was shipped to Columbus may be the most valuable asset that the Jackets got in return. 2015 is projected to be a loaded draft, so that pick holds quite a bit of value.
Karlsson has shown flashes of being a competent NHL player, but he was never by any means going to be a franchise cornerstone. As for Rene Bourque, the Ducks rid themselves of a player who brought basically nothing in terms of offense during his brief California stint.
Simon Despres For Ben Lovejoy
Ben Lovejoy has been a serviceable defenseman for the Ducks this season. A hilarious personality in the locker room, Lovejoy brought stability with some decent puck-moving ability and physicality. Yet at 31 years of age, there’s little reason to believe that he’ll progress.
Simon Despres, on the other hand, is only 23. At 6′ 4″, 214 pounds, he adds a big body to the Ducks’ blueline that can skate and make a good first pass out of the defensive zone. His possession statistics have also been healthy this season, staying above 50 percent at even strength.
Murray not only improved his defense corps in the short term by adding Despres, but also in the long term given his youth and potential.
Tomas Fleischmann for Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley has played more games in the AHL this season than he has in the NHL. That’s all that needs to be said about his Ducks tenure (we’ll call it that).
For Heatley and a third rounder, Anaheim managed to bring in Fleischmann, a familiar face for Bruce Boudreau who coached him in Washington.
The veteran winger hasn’t had an outstanding season, but he’s historically been able to chip in some offense in a bottom-six role. Not only is he an upgrade over Heatley, but his presence provides Boudreau more flexibility in composing his lineup.
Jiri Sekac For Devante Smith-Pelly
Many believe that this trade was a classic “hockey” trade, meaning that both teams gave up an asset to get a different type of asset.
There is very little truth to that. Smith-Pelly, for all the physicality that he brought, was basically an afterthought offensively. Sure, he had a hot streak in last year’s playoffs, but a larger sample size tells us that he produced very little offensively while dragging down the team’s possession while on the ice.
Sekac detractors point to the fact that he barely produced at all while in Montreal. That’s an absolutely fair point, yet Sekac’s impact on the game can’t be defined simply by goals and assists. It also must be noted that Sekac is playing his first professional season in North America.
In just a few games with the Ducks, he’s already shown that he can contribute offensively, delivering incredible passes. He actually attempts to control the puck when entering the offensive zone, leading to more possession, unlike Smith-Pelly who would far too often settle with dumping the puck into the corner.
Both players are only 22 years old, but anyone who’s watched both closely can say without losing any sleep that Sekac has far more potential. The Ducks got the more talented player in the trade, and that should only become more evident as time passes by.
“Winning” The Trade Deadline
No one wins the Stanley Cup on trade deadline day. Some of the biggest trades ever made at the deadline haven’t resulted in Cup victories (think back to Marian Hossa heading to Pittsburgh in 2008, or Thomas Vanek heading to Montreal last season).
Too often around the league, the future of the franchise is mortgaged to have a better shot at the Cup in the present. Bob Murray defied that convention these past few days. Aside from Wisniewski and Fleischmann, he brought in players like Sekac and Despres who can not only help the team this season, but in coming seasons as well. That’s highly encouraging for any Ducks fan.
In the process, he’s also been able to improve his club without letting go of any major assets. No first round picks were flipped; Sami Vatanen, Matt Beleskey, Cam Fowler, and John Gibson are all still members of the Anaheim Ducks. That’s quite the accomplishment.
Instead, Murray unloaded players who were either overpaid (Bourque, Brewer), unproductive (Bourque, Heatley, Lovejoy), or relatively inconsequential (Karlsson, Smith-Pelly). Three draft picks were traded, yet only two are in this year’s stacked draft.
Bob Murray already has a General Manager Of The Year award under his belt. If the Ducks march into the playoffs with their newly improved team, there’s a strong possibility that he could add another one.
Felix Sicard is the Anaheim Ducks’ Lead Writer for The Hockey Writers. Now in his third season of covering the team, he writes previews and recaps for all Ducks’ home games, as well as weekly analysis pieces.
In addition to covering the Ducks at THW, Felix co-hosts SB Nation’s Anaheim Calling: The Podcast, as well as hosting The Garage Hockey Podcast.
For consistent Ducks’ content, be sure to check out his Twitter @Felix_Sicard.